UCLA » College » Social Sciences » History

Toby Higbie


Contact Information

Email    higbie@history.ucla.edu
Office  6349 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-794-9331

Tobias Higbie teaches classes on U.S. History, labor and social movement history, migration history, labor studies, and digital history methods. He is Chair of the Labor Studies interdepartmental degree program and Associate Director of the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment. Higbie's most recent book, Labor's Mind: a History of Working-Class Intellectual Life (University of Illinois Press, 2019) is a social and cultural history of working-class readers and workers' education in the U.S. during the early 20th century. He also is the author of Indispensable Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest, 1880-1930 (2003), and articles on migration, print culture, and working class education. Before coming to UCLA in 2007, Higbie taught labor history and contemporary economics for trade unionists at the University of Illinois, and directed a research center at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois.

Faculty Chair, Labor Studies

Associate Director, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

Member, UCLA Faculty Association.

Member, American Federation of Teachers, University Council, AFL-CIO.


Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Best Article Prize, Labor vol. 10, for "Why Do Robots Rebel."

Allan Sharlin Memorial Award, Social Science History Association, 2004.

Philip Taft Labor History Book Award, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 2004. Awarded jointly to Indispensable Outcasts and Robert Korstad, Civil Rights Unionism.

Selected Publications

Labor's Mind: a History of Working-Class Intellectual Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019).

"Heartland: The Politics of a Regional Signifier," Middle West Review, 1(Spring 2014): 81-90. pre-publication copy.

"Five Ideas for Digital Labor History" LaborOnline January 9, 2014.

"Why Do Robots Rebel? The Labor History of a Cultural Icon" in Labor 10:1 (Spring 2013). Read it HereSee more images.

“Unschooled but Not Uneducated: Print, Public Speaking, and the Networks of Informal Working-Class Education, 1900-1940,” pp. 103-125 in Adam R. Nelson and John L. Rudolph, eds., Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010). Read it Here.

Frontier to Heartland: Making History in Central North America (Curator), online exhibit at the Newberry Library, 2010. Presentation slides for "Imagining the Spaces of Central North America" November 17, 2010.

“Between Romance and Degradation: Navigating the Meanings of Vagrancy in North America, 1870-1940,” pp. 250-269 in Augustus Lee Beier and Paul Ocobock, eds., Cast Out: A Global History of Vagrancy. Ohio University Press, 2008.

Outspoken: Chicago's Free Speech Tradition. Curator (with Peter Alter), Newberry Library/Chicago Historical Society exhibit, 2004. Online exhibit.

“Rural Work, Household Subsistence, and the North American Working Class: A View from the Midwest,” International Labor and Working Class History 65 (Spring 2004): 50-76.

Indispensable Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest, 1880-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.

“Crossing Class Boundaries: Tramp Ethnographers and Narratives of Class in Progressive Era America,” Social Science History 21:4 (Winter 1997): 559-592.

Graduate Students

Caroline Luce

Alfred Flores

Andrew Gomez

Current Courses by Term