Dr. Simon Cordery

Department Chair and Professor

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 Dr Cordery


Dr. Simon Cordery (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1995) joined the WIU Department of History in Summer 2012 as Chair of the Department and Professor of Modern British History, Comparative Labor History, and Railroad History.  In addition to courses in these areas, Dr. Cordery offers courses on the history of sport and supervises graduate students in sports history and the history of railroads.

Prior to coming to WIU in the summer of 2012, Prof. Cordery taught in the History Department at Monmouth College from 1994 to 2012, serving as chair for five years and leading a major overhaul of the departmental curriculum. He also served as director for the College’s study-abroad program in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Prof. Cordery’s research agenda reflects his interest in the interlocking history of railroads and labor. His first book, British Friendly Societies 1750-1914 (published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2003), is a study of the largest group of voluntary organizations in nineteenth-century Britain. His second book, Mother Jones: Raising Cain and Consciousness (University of New Mexico Press, 2010), is a biography of the Irish-American labor leader dubbed “the most dangerous woman in America” who played a key role in bringing women union organizers to prominence. His most recent book, The Iron Road in the Prairie State:  The Story of Illinois Railroading, was published by Indiana University Press in January 2016. He is the author of numerous articles and book reviews, and chairs the nominations committee of the National Railroad Hall of Fame.

After completing his BA at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Cordery earned the MA at the University of York, UK.  He worked with Dr. Edward Royle, writing a thesis on the radical publisher Joshua Hobson. He worked for three years as an editorial assistant at the American Historical Association and as writer/editor for the Consortium of Social Science Associations in Washington, DC, before reentering graduate school. While writing his dissertation on railway friendly societies in Victorian Britain at the University of Texas, he taught at Louisburg College in North Carolina.

Dr. Cordery in the News