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Melanie Shell-Weiss

Chair, Liberal Studies Department

Grand Valley State University
324A Lake Ontario Hall
Allendale, MI 49401



  • ITC 100: Introduction to Intercultural Competence 
  • LIB 201: Diversity in the United States
  • LIB 100: Introduction to Liberal Studies
  • LIB 301: Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • LIB 320: Voices of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States
  • LIB 350: The Immigrant Experience in America
  • LIB 490/491: Internship/Practicum
  • LIB 495: Senior Seminar


My scholarly interests focus on human migration, both forced and voluntary. Exploring how, why, and where people move as well as how moving people transform local communities is at the heart of my work. I am also an experienced oral historian. My current work focuses on documenting the experience of diverse communities across West Michigan as a window onto better understanding our local, regional, national, and global communities.

Examples of my recent projects include "Gi-gikinomage-min (We are all teachers): Unlock Your Spirit, Defend Our History" (a project documenting the Native American urban experience in Grand Rapids), "Nuestra Comunidad Hispana" (collecting stories and portraits of Latino community in Holland), and "Growing Community in Oceana County" (and effort focusing on the histories of migrant families in Hart, Shelby, and Walkerville). 

Selected Recent Publications:
Citizenship and the City: Democracy, Politics, and Urban Policy in North America, with Robert Cassanello (in progress)
Coming to Miami: A Social History, Sunbelt Studies Series (University Press of Florida, 2009)
Florida's Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor from Spanish Florida to the New Immigration, edited with Robert Cassanello (University Press of Florida, 2009; 2nd edition, 2011)


"Good Intentions, Bad Outcomes: Oral History and Public Responsibility," with Belinda Bardwell, in progress.
"Independence and Interdependence: Caribbean-North American Migration in the Modern Era," in Migrants and Migrations in North America: Cross-Border Lives, Labor Markets, and Politics in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States, edited by Dirk Hoerder and Nora Faires (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011): 226-232.
"From Minority to Majority: The Latinization of Miami's Workforce, 1940-1980," in Moving Workers, Capital, and Corporations: Migration and the Transformation of the Modern South after 1945, edited by Colin Davis and Robert  Cassanello (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, October 2009): 13-33.
"Making America: Immigration, Race, and Citizenship," Teaching American Immigration and Ethnic History Forum, Journal of American Ethnic History (Winter 2009): 74-78.
"'I Dreamed I Went to Work': Southern Unionism and the Puerto Rican Garment Industry, 1945-1965," in Florida's Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor from Spanish Florida to the New Immigration, edited by Melanie Shell-Weiss and Robert Cassanello (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009): 295-350.
"Immigration, Race, and Nation: Baltimore's Immigrant Recruitment and Response, 1880-1910," Working Paper Series, Center for Africana Studies, The Johns Hopkins University (January 2007):
"Keeping Peace in the Family: The Jewish Court of Arbitration, 1912-1945," Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change  in East Baltimore, edited by Deborah R. Weiner, Anita Kassof, and Avi Y. Decter (Baltimore: Jewish Museum of Maryland, 2007): 65-83.
“Beyond Pay-per-View: New Models for Scholarship and Scholarly Communication in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” with Paul Turnbull and Mark Kornbluh, in Cushla Kapitzke and B.C. Bruce, eds. Libraries: Changing Information Space and Practice (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006): 211-228.
“Coming North, Going South: Immigration and Labor in Early Twentieth Century Miami,” Florida Historical Quarterly, special issue on Transnational Communities (Summer 2005): 79-99.

Kitty Cats

Ph.D, History, Michigan State University