John J. Fry
Professor of History, Department Chair,
Academic Dean, and Director of Foundations Program
on faculty since 2003
Those who lived before us have things that they can teach us about how to view the world, how to pursue our dreams, and how to live together in community.
Dr. John Fry believes that history enables us to listen to the voices of the past. “This is important for a number of reasons: Those voices enable us to trace why the present is the way that it is; listening to those voices helps us to engage people who don’t think the way we do; and people in the past have much to teach us about how to view the world and how to live a meaningful life.”
Fry grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania. “When I pursued graduate work in history, I chose to focus on the rural history of the American West. I think that rural places and rural people are sometimes discounted when people talk about American culture, and I wanted to study the rural West in order to better remember and understand the experiences of those who have lived in the country.”
What drew him to Trinity:
Fry wanted to teach at a small, Reformed Christian liberal arts college. “I wanted to be able to interact with students on a regular basis in small courses, not large lecture sections. I wanted to be able to talk about how my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ influences what I study. I wanted to be able to help students improve how they read, write, think, and speak. Trinity enables me to do all of these things.”
In addition to rural history and the American West, Fry is also interested in the history of print culture, the American Revolution, and how historians approach history from a Christian perspective. His current research project concerns the faith of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House books.
When he’s not teaching:
When Fry is not teaching, he spends time with his wife and four children, Deborah, Stephen, Benjamin, and Daniel. “We enjoy taking walks in our neighborhood, Marvel Studios movies, and doing things with our church family at Westminster Presbyterian Church (OPC), where I am a ruling elder, Sunday school teacher, and youth leader.”
Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 2002
M.A., Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1997
M.L.S., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1992
B.A., Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, 1991
Courses and Publications/Research
- American Colonies: 1492-1800
- America and Western Civilization
- Envisioning America: 1900-Present
- Europe and Western Civilization
- Introduction to Historical Inquiry
Papers Published and/or Presented
Currently working on a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House books, with special attention to her Christian faith.
Laura Gibson Smith, Almost Pioneers: One Couple’s Homesteading Adventure in the West. Edited by John J. Fry. Guilford, CT: Globe-Pequot Press, 2013. https://www.amazon.com/Almost-Pioneers-Couples-Homesteading-Adventure/dp/0762784393/
The Farm Press, Reform, and Rural Change, 1895-1920. New York: Routledge, 2005. https://www.amazon.com/1895-1920-Studies-American-Popular-History/dp/0415972868/
“Henry A. Wallace.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Political and Legal History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
“‘Good Farming – Clear Thinking – Right Living’: Midwestern Farm Newspapers, Social Reform, and Rural Readers in the Early Twentieth Century.” Agricultural History 78 (Winter 2004): 34-49.
Paul Kengor and John J. Fry, “V&V Q&A: The Politics of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Interview with the director of the Center for Vision And Values, Grove City College, published in regional newspapers, 21 September 2009, and The St. Croix Review 42(6)(2009): 56-60; also available at: http://www.visionandvalues.org/2009/09/vv-qa-the-politics-of-laura-ingalls-wilder/
Review of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. In The Annals of Iowa 74 (Fall 2015): 426-428.
Review of Sallie Ketcham, Laura Ingalls Wilder: American Writer on the Prairie. In The Annals of Iowa 74 (Summer 2015): 331-332.
Review of Brian Dirck, Abraham Lincoln and White America. In Fides et Historia 46 (Summer/Fall 2014): 133-135.
Review of Alan Petigny, The Permissive Society: America, 1941-1965. In Fides et Historia 43 (Summer/Fall 2011): 164-166.
Review of Brian Dirck, Lincoln the Lawyer. In Fides et Historia 42 (Winter/Spring, 2010): 101-103.
Review of Anita Clair Fellman, Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture. In The Annals of Iowa 68 (Winter 2009): 88-89.
Review of Zachary Michael Jack, ed., Black Earth and Ivory Tower: New American Essays from Farm and Classroom. In The Annals of Iowa 66 (Winter 2007): 119.
Review of Anna Lisa Cox, A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith. In Fides et Historia 39 (Summer/Fall 2007): 149-151.
Review of Eric Foner, Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World. In Fides et Historia 35 (Summer/Fall 2003): 180-182.
Awards and Memberships
Honors and Awards
- Recipient of travel grant from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation to do research in West Branch, Iowa for research project on the Faith of Laura Ingalls Wilder, 2016.
- Almost Pioneers named Best Nonfiction Book on Wyoming History by the Wyoming State Historical Society, 2014
Professional Society Memberships
- The Conference on Faith and History
- The Midwestern History Association