Margaret Garb

Professor of History
Co-Director of Washington University Prison Education Project
PhD, Columbia University
research interests:
  • 19th and Early 20th-Century American History
  • Urban Studies
  • African-American Political History

contact info:

mailing address:

  • CB 1062
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Garb is author of two books focusing on the history of the Chicago region. Her courses include "A History of Poverty and Social Reform in the US" and "The American City in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries."

For more information, visit Margaret Garb's department profile.

Freedom's Ballot

Freedom's Ballot

In the spring of 1915, Chicagoans elected the city’s first black alderman, Oscar De Priest. In a city where African Americans made up less than five percent of the voting population, and in a nation that dismissed and denied black political participation, De Priest’s victory was astonishing. It did not, however, surprise the unruly group of black activists who had been working for several decades to win representation on the city council.


Freedom’s Ballot is the history of three generations of African American activists—the ministers, professionals, labor leaders, clubwomen, and entrepreneurs—who transformed twentieth-century urban politics. This is a complex and important story of how black political power was institutionalized in Chicago in the half-century following the Civil War. Margaret Garb explores the social and political fabric of Chicago, revealing how the physical makeup of the city was shaped by both political corruption and racial empowerment—in ways that can still be seen and felt today.