Dick DaviesRichard O. Davies

University Foundation Professor

Ph.D., University of Missouri, 1963

Office: Mack Social Sciences, JVC 4
Phone: (775) 784-6657
Email: ridavies@unr.edu

My teaching and research have evolved over a career that began nearly fifty years ago with a traditional graduate education at the University of Missouri in American political history. After completing a dissertation on the politics of urban redevelopment and public housing in 1963, I developed a teaching and publications portfolio emphasizing twentieth century political and urban history. Early publications included: Housing Reform During the Truman Administration (1966), an anthology edited with Frank Mitchell on political and social history since 1900 entitled America’s Recent Past (1968), and an examination of the Eisenhower Administration’s creation of the Interstate Highway System: The Age of Asphalt; The Automobile, the Freeway, and the Condition of Urban America (1975). 

After a seventeen-year hiatus in the higher echelons of academic administration, I returned to a professorship in 1987. After completing a political biography of a mid-twentieth century political conservative icon, Defender of the Old Guard: John W. Bricker and American Politics (1993), I turned my attention to two areas of social history, small town America and American sports history. 

In 1994 America’s Obsession; Sports and Society Since 1945 appeared as a companion to my creation of what has become a heavily-enrolled senior level course in American sports history. This research interest was extended with an examination of a topic that resonates within the state of Nevada, Betting the Line; Sports Wagering in American Life (2002, with Richard G. Abram), and in 2007 Blackwell Publishing released my most demanding writing endeavor, a comprehensive text that seeks to interpret the role of sports in American history from the colonial times to the present. Sports in American Life; A History is intended for classroom use in the rapidly expanding field of sports history. 

During the 1990s I also turned my attention to the history of America’s small towns by examining the small town Ohio birthplace of novelist Sherwood Anderson from its founding in 1803 until the time the book was published in 1998; Main Street Blues; The Decline of Small Town America  apparently struck a sensitive nerve because of the depressing story it told, and the book attracted considerable attention from professional historians and lay readers. Main Street Blues was followed up by an anthology edited with two excellent scholars of the same subject, Joseph Amato and David Pichaske, A Place Called Home, Readings on The Midwestern Small Town (2003). 

In 1999, I edited a series of original essays that sought to connect my interest in post World War II America to the unique history of my adopted state, and derived great satisfaction from the success of The Maverick Spirit; Building the New Nevada.  All of these books have been accompanied by a substantial number of academic articles and encyclopedia entries, and I would like the believe that my research efforts have enriched my teaching efforts in the University’s core curriculum humanities course as well as my upper divisions and graduate courses in twentieth century American history.

Current research builds upon previous work with a book-length project on the fascinating saga of major sports rivalries, and more long-term, I envisage an examination of the ambivalence with which Americans have viewed gambling throughout American history.


  • HIST 403 (Capstone): Modern American Civilization
  • HIST 409/609: History of Sports in America
  • HIST 416b/616b: Recent United States History, 1929-present
  • CH 203: The American Experience