Robert J. Allison, PhD

Professor of History, Suffolk University

Robert Allison received his Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the Harvard Extension School in 1987 and his doctorate in the history of American civilization from Harvard University in 1992, and he has taught in Extension since 1993. In 1997, he received the Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award. He is also a professor of history at Suffolk University, where he chairs the history department. His books include The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World 1776-1820; Stephen Decatur: American Naval Hero 1779-1820; A Short History of Boston; and The Boston Massacre. He has also edited an edition of The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. He is president of the South Boston Historical Society, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and vice president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. He served as a consultant to the Commonwealth Museum at the Massachusetts State Archives, and he is an overseer of the USS Constitution Museum and on the board of directors of the Bostonian Society. He and his family live in South Boston.


  • PhD Harvard University


Courses with Robert J. Allison

January session

Boston in the American Revolution

Why did the American Revolution begin in Boston? This course takes an in-depth look at the political and social climate in Boston in the 1760s and 1770s, and the events that transformed resistance into revolution: the Stamp Act riots, the Boston Massacre, and the destruction of the tea.

Spring term 2018

Boston Under Siege

We explore the siege of Boston—from the arrival of British troops in June 1774 to their evacuation on March 17, 1776. How did Boston and the surrounding communities respond to British occupation? How did this military action turn colonial resistance into revolution?

The History of Boston

This course examines the history of Boston from the 1620s to the Big Dig. We discover the people who built, rebuilt, and transformed the city, from the days of the Puritans through the era of the American Revolution, nineteenth-century immigration and industrialization, and twentieth-century decline and revival.

Fall term 2017

The Early American Republic

We examine the history of the United States from the ratification of the US Constitution in 1788 to the sectional crisis of 1850. Topics include the establishment of the federal government and of the party system; relations between Native Americans and the US; wars with France, Algiers, Tripoli, Britain, and Mexico; the development of the American economy; and the expansion of slavery.