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History Department

Tom McCarthy


20th-C. U.S.; Environmental; Psychology; Catholic Studies; Consumer/Business; New England

  •  Phone: (410) 293-6268
  •  E-mail:
  •   The United States Naval Academy
        572 Holloway Road
        Annapolis, MD 21402


  • Ph.D. - Yale University
  • M.A. - New York University
  • M.B.A. - Columbia University
  • B.A. - Dickinson College


  • Developing the Whole Person:  A Practitioner's Tale of Counseling, College, and the American Promise (New York:  Peter Lang, 2018).
  • Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).
National Historic Landmark Nomination & Designation Articles and Chapters
  • "The Called, the Chosen, and the Tempted:  Psychologists, the Church, and the Scandal," American Catholic Studies 125:4 (2014):  1-49.
  • "Developing the Whole Student:  Edmund G. Williamson, Psychologist-Administrators and the Student Affairs Movement," Perspectives on the History of Higher Education 31 (2014):  139-174.
  • "Great Aspirations:  The Postwar American College Counseling Center,": History of Psychology 17:1 (2014):  1-18.
  • "The Black Box in the Garden," Consumers and the Environment," in Douglas Cazaux Sackman, ed., A Companion to American Environmental History (Blackwell, 2010), 304-324.
  • "Automobili, politica ambientale e individualismo liberale:  un dilemma Americano," I Frutti di Demetra 21 (2009): 15-22.
  • "A Natural Intersection:  A Survey of Historical Work on Mobility and the Environment," in Gijs Mom, et al., eds., Mobility in History:  The State of the Art in the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (Neuchatel, Switzerland:  Editions Alphil, 2009), 78-106.
  • "Henry Ford:  Take-Back, Waste Reduction, and Recycling at the Rouge," Progress in Industrial Ecology 3:4 (2006):  302-328.
  • "The Coming Wonder?  Foresight and Early Concerns about the Automobile," Environmental History 6:1 (2001):  46-74.

Research Interests

My interests are varied.  

Much of my work has explored--from different perspectives--the limitations and ironies of liberal individualism in the American experience.  In my Auto Mania project I examined the relationship between consumer behavior and the environment.  I showed how the multifaceted appeal of the automobile made it hard for twentieth-century Americans, not so much to recognize, but to address the myriad environmental impacts.

More recently, I explored in Developing the Whole Person the influence of psychologist-administrators who brought counseling psychology to post-World War II American higher education in the form of counseling centers and the broader student affairs movement.  These reformers argued that providing science-based mentoring  to regular students to foster whole-person development deserved equal importance in the university mission with classroom-based instruction.  The late-1960's student movement collided with these efforts when proponents rejected all forms of institutional paternalism in favor of student freedom and made liberal-individualism the predominant paradigm for institution-student relations.  The end-result was a de facto fusion of the student affairs and student freedom paradigms.

Some Catholic counseling psychologists also began assessing candidates for the priesthood after 1950, an initiative that illuminates a good deal about the Catholic Church, the priesthood, and the clergy sexual abuse scandal that came to light in recent years.

I am currently working on a project called Speak for Yourself, which examines how descendants of Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins remembered and celebrated their Mayflower forebears.  This work is a microhistory that explores how Americans "do history." 

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