Zachary Schrag

Zachary Schrag

Zachary Schrag

Director of the MA Program in History


U.S. History: Post-1945 US history, urban history, history of technology, public policy, human subjects regulations, riot control

Zachary M. Schrag [silent c, rhymes with bag] studies cities, technology, and public policy in the United States in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.

He is the author of two books, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro, and Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, both of them published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Schrag’s articles have been published in the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of Urban History, Research EthicsTechnology and Culture, and Washington History, and his essays have appeared in the American HistorianAHA Perspectives, TR News, the Washington Monthly, and the Washington Post.

He has received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Gerald Ford Foundation, and the Library of Congress and has been awarded the Society for American City and Regional Planning History’s John Reps Prize and the Journal of Policy History's Ellis Hawley Prize.

Current Research

Professor Schrag is at work on a narrative history of the Philadelphia nativist riots of 1844. In May and July of that year, supporters of a new, anti-immigrant political party attacked Irish Catholic neighborhoods and churches, leading to a full-scale battle between a mob and volunteer militia.

Selected Publications

The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009 (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

Courses Taught

HNRS 240: Reading the Past

HNRS 353: Technology in the Contemporary World

HIST 615/635: Technology and Power

HIST 623: Recent U.S. History, 1945 to Present

HIST 797: Research Seminar


AB magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1992

PhD, Columbia University, 2002

Dissertations Supervised

Alan Capps, The Antecedents of the U.S. Border Patrol, 1812-1940 (2018)

Ray Clark, A Public Airport for the District of Columbia: The History of Washington Dulles International Airport (2017)

Mary Sullivan Linhart, Up to Date and Progressive: Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia, 1870-1980 (2014)