William D. Goldsmith is a 20th-century U.S. historian with specialties in the history of political economy, African American history, the history of the U.S. South, and the history of education. Broadly, he is interested in how policy and institutions exacerbate and ameliorate historical inequalities.
His book manuscript, Educating for a New Economy: The Struggle to Redevelop a Jim Crow State, shows how a set of policymakers in North Carolina, empowered by the civil rights revolution, seeded through educational institutions what they thought would be a better economy, with high wages for ordinary workers, a system that might at last redress the injustices of plantation slavery and Jim Crow. The book will suggest the limits of people-based development strategies for rooting out inequalities as well as how such policies complicated urban–rural politics in North Carolina. While this is in part a story about the South and its Jim Crow struggles, it also helps explain the disappointments of an eds-and-meds economy in postindustrial America writ large.
In addition to completing this project, Goldsmith is working on a history of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
Goldsmith received his Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2018 and his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 2002. He was a 2017/18 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Before graduate school, Goldsmith worked as a journalist in Charlottesville, Virginia and a high school teacher in Halifax County, North Carolina. He is originally from Old Fort, North Carolina, where he graduated from McDowell High.