About Me

I am an Assistant Professor of History and the Museum Studies Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I have a PhD and MA in American History from Marquette University (2020, 2015) and a B.A. in History and Political Science from Northwestern University (2012).

My manuscript under contract with the University of Illinois Press, “How Democrats Won the Heartland: Progressive Populism in the Age of Reagan, 1978-1992” examines the how left-wing activists rebuilt the Democratic Party, specifically in the Upper Midwest, in response to the Reagan Revolution. Combining the records of grassroots activist groups with state- and national-level Democratic parties and figures from across the Midwest and U.S., I focus on the reorganization of Midwestern Democratic parties around the principles of what leading figures like Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, and others called “progressive populism.” Through newspapers, correspondence, and internal memos, I trace how this was driven by grassroots groups who intentionally used the language of Midwestern progressive organizations like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, North Dakota Nonpartisan League, and Wisconsin Progressive Party to revive farm-labor, rural-urban working-class solidarity.

Book cover featuring the states of the American Midwest highlighted in red. Text reads The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest, edited by Jon K. Lauck and Catherine McNicol Stock.I am the author of the chapters “Replanting the Grassroots: The South Dakota Democratic Party from McGovern to Daschle, 1980-1986” in The Plains Political Tradition, vol. 3 (South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2018); “‘There exists a conservative veneer’: Terry Branstad, Chuck Grassley, and the Conservative Takeover of the Iowa Republican Party” in The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest (University Press of Kansas, 2020); and the forthcoming “‘Why We Must Save the Family Farm’: Midwestern Liberalism and Progressive Farm Policy, 1985-1996” in The Liberal Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest (University Press of Kansas, expected 2023). I have also written an encyclopedia entry for MNopedia.org on the DFL Feminist Caucus and have articles in progress on a series of anti-NAFTA border blockades in the 1980s and 1990s and Paul Wellstone and the 33% Campaign, a progressive voter-registration initiative in Minnesota. I also serve as the Social Media Director of the Midwestern History Association.

Text from letterhead reading "The Minnesota 33%" with the outline of the state of Minnesota.

My research has earned me several grants and fellowships. During the 2019-2020 academic year (extended into 2021), I was a New England Regional Fellowship Consortium recipient, spending eight weeks at various archives in the greater Boston area. I have also received the Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellows Program at Marquette University, a Congressional Research Grant sponsored by the Dirksen Congressional Center, a State Historical Society of Iowa grant, the Minnesota Historical Society Legacy Research Fellowship, a Senator Paul Simon Papers Research Stipend, multiple travel grants to the Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting, and a Young Scholars and Activists Fellowship from the Working Class History Association.

A screenshot of the website "Inver Grove History"
Inver Grove History

My digital projects to date include the Milwaukee Near West Side History Project as part of an internship with the Marquette Digital Scholarship Lab and a mapping project for the Milwaukee County Historical Society on historic breweries in Milwaukee. With Tom Goetz and his AP US History students at Simley High School, in 2022 I began the Inver Grove History digital archive project. Currently I am working on a project to map a 500-mile campaign trip taken on bike by Minnesota 2nd Congressional District candidate David Minge, exploring the effects the trip had on local voting patterns, and a scrolling map of Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects in the Minneapolis parks system.

View selected student research successes by clicking the image.

In the 2021-22 academic year I served as Visiting Assistant Professor of History in the Honors College at the University of Houston, teaching courses on modern U.S. history and “Populism and Protest in U.S. History and Politics”, and in the 2022-23 academic year I taught U.S. history and Minnesota History at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. During the 2020-21 school year I taught a mixture of in-person, hybrid, and online classes at St. Cloud State, Tarleton State University (Fall 2020) and Connecticut College (Spring 2021), including “U.S. Politics and Culture since 1945” and “Reagan and American Conservatism”. I have served as an Adjunct Lecturer at St. Cloud State since Fall 2019, spent the 2018-19 academic year as an Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation Leadership Fellow, and during the 2017-18 academic year was a Teaching Fellow in the Marquette University Department of History, teaching two sections of Intro to American History. I have also taught at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. You can see a list of student academic and research successes here.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife Laura and our daughter Noelle, traveling, trying new craft beer, and reveling in the misery of supporting Minnesota professional and Northwestern college sports. 

Follow @Cory_Haala on Twitter | Follow @CoryHaala on Bluesky

8 Replies to “About Me”

  1. Hi Cory,

    My name is Mike Chamberlain and I’m an audiobook narrator based in Los Angeles. I’m narrating a book called The Conservative Heartland edited by Jon K. Lauck and Catherine McNicol Stock of which an essay of yours is included.

    If you have a moment, would you mind confirming how your last name is pronounced? I’m thinking it could be “HAH luh” or “HAH lah. ” You can just reply to my email or my number is 818-357-9566 and it’ll go straight to voicemail.

    Thanks very much. I appreciate it!


  2. Cory:

    I acquired your name through Sara Morris of the Agricultural History Society.

    After reading your background, I have several questions. I’ll start with my original reason for seeking you out.

    I’m a writer specializing in economic history. I’m currently working on a book titled A Reckoning in August. It posits that states of the Northern Great Plains and Northern Rockies have twisted the original political pragmatic narrative found in their 1889 constitutions. These documents were pro-science, largely pro-suffrage, pro-public education and advocated – mostly – for the working stiff. They made all running water the property of the state. Talk about textbook central planning. And, except for Montana, these were Republican conventioneers.

    The political narrative has changed a bit the last 20 years. Look at the demise of Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. I argue that “movement conservatism,” or any political wisdom from the lips of Newt Gingrich, et al, doesn’t fit into the political history of this region.

    However, I’m stuck on figuring out if the Great Plains or Northern Rockies farmer ever really forgave the federal government for the missteps it took in creating the 1980s farm crisis. Or did the begrudgement carry on to the next generation? Can you help inform me on this epoch?

    Follow ups. Did your PhD thesis ever get digitalized? I’d sure like to read it. Also thanks for notes on, The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest. Didn’t realize it was out. Will read it ASAP


    Samuel Western
    Sheridan, WY

  3. Professor Haala: I stumbled upon your site while “researching” MN Coach P J Fleck’s HYPRR. I’ve read several of your blogs. I’m curious: How far does your definition of “Midwest” go? The blogs I read concentrate on MN, WI, IA, SD, ND and IL. As a life-long resident of OH I’ve always understood OH to be part of the “Midwest,” and that the Plains begin in the flatlands of western OH (think northwest of Dayton almost to the MI state line). Thanks.

  4. Hey Professor Haala,

    Its me John from Connecticut College! I was in your US culture and politics class back in 2021, hope your doing well at your new position down in the Lone Star State. Was taking a trip down memory lane and just wanted to tell you I enjoyed being in your class.

    1. Whoa, I missed this comment, John! I don’t read Robert Taft’s name without thinking of you. Thanks for the kind words! I hope your Conn College career is going swimmingly!

  5. Hi Cory.

    Hope you are doing well.

    I worked under you as an undergraduate researcher and narrative writer on the Near West Side History Project. Specifically, I contributed heavily to the nurse narrative. I am trying to add the project to my portfolio, but the website now returns “403 Forbidden”. Do you have a copy of the project in some form that I could use?

    The only hard evidence of my involvement and the finished product that I can share with future employers/graduate programs is in this 2017 article from the Digital Scholarship Lab at Marquette. https://medium.com/dslab/mapping-milwaukee-in-the-near-west-side-history-project-b9d9c252498c

    Thank you for your help and happy that you have found success,

    Nathan Batty

  6. Hello Mr.Haala
    I took one of your class in CLC and love it so thank you so much for making the class enjoyable. I have now moved on to a university level and started my major in history. The reason I left the comment was to ask for some advice since you have a BA in history. The main advice I’m really seeking is how to improve my writing since I believe that is my weakest aspect. Maybe a little about research too since I always leave my searches, super broad and then have too much information that I don’t really need. It would be great to hear from you and also want to congratulate you on the new position. I hope your family doing well.

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