Zachary M. Schrag. Photo by Jim Cassatt, 2022

Zachary M. Schrag [silent c, rhymes with bag and flag] was born in New York City in 1970. In 1977, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended Georgetown Day School, graduating in 1988. From there he went to Harvard, where he graduated in 1992.

In 1996 Schrag entered the doctoral program in history at Columbia University, where he studied with Elizabeth Blackmar, Alan Brinkley, Ronald Grele, and Kenneth Jackson. He received his PhD in 2002.

After receiving his doctorate, Schrag taught at Baruch College and Columbia University. In 2004, he joined the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University.

Schrag’s first book, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), examines the politics, planning, engineering, architecture, finance, and operations of the nation’s second-largest rail transit system, arguing that Metro is best understood as the concrete manifestation of Great Society ideals. A paperback edition, with a new preface, was published in 2014.

A second book, Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, was published by Johns Hopkins in 2010. It argues that biomedical researchers and bioethicists repeatedly excluded social scientists from rule making and ignored the existing ethical traditions in nonmedical fields. The result is that university ethics panels routinely impede the work of scholars in those fields.

Schrag’s third book, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, published in 2021, compiles key lessons that Schrag has learned in his quarter century as a writer and teacher of history.

A fourth book, The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation, published in 2021 by Pegasus Books, tells the story of nativist attacks on Philadelphia’s Irish Catholic immigrants, and the volunteer militia’s defense of minority rights..

Schrag’s scholarly articles have been published in APT Bulletin, the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of Urban HistoryResearch EthicsRethinking HistoryTechnology and Culture, and Washington History. His essays have appeared in the American HistorianAHA PerspectivesInside Higher Ed, the Journal of American HistoryPolitico, Slate, Tablet Magazine, TR News, the Washington Monthly, and the Washington Post.

Schrag has served as the editor of Washington History, a guest editor for the Journal of Policy History, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urban History, and a member of the board of the Urban History Association.

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

A bicycle commuter to Mason since 2013, Schrag was awarded the Rick Holt Active Transportation Advocate Award in 2022.

He is married to the beautiful Professor Rebecca Tushnet of Harvard Law School. They live in Arlington, Virginia, with their children, Leonard and Nora.

Updated August 5, 2023.