James M. Denham, Ph.D.

Professor of History

My goal as a professor is to aid students in reading and thinking critically while developing an appreciation for the relevance of history to their daily lives. I encourage students to understand ‘cause and effect’ of historical events, as well as appreciate the ‘why important’ and the significance. Finally, I believe that active engagement through research, writing, and developing public presentations is essential to good teaching, and I enjoy sharing my projects with my students.

- James M. Denham

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James M. Denham

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James M. Denham is Professor of History and Director of the Lawton M. Chiles Jr. Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College. Before coming to Lakeland in 1991, Denham held teaching appointments at Florida State University, Georgia Southern University, and Limestone College in South Carolina. A specialist in Southern, Florida, and Criminal Justice and Legal history, Denham received his Ph.D degree from FSU. He is the author of "Florida Founder William P. DuVal: Frontier Bon Vivant. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2015), "Fifty Years of Justice: A History of the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015), and "A Rogue's Paradise": Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997). Denham is also the author of three other books including Florida Sheriffs: A History, 1821-1945 (Tallahassee, Sentry Press, 2001), with William W. Rogers; Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives, the Florida Reminiscences of George Gillette Keen and Sarah Pamela Williams (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000), with Canter Brown, Jr. and Echoes from a Distant Frontier: the Brown Sisters’ Correspondence in Antebellum Florida (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004), with Keith Huneycutt. Denham's articles and reviews have appeared in the America Historical Review, American Journal of Legal History, Journal of Southern History, Florida Historical Quarterly, Florida Bar Journal, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Military History of the West, Gulf Coast Historical Review, Georgia Historical Quarterly, Florida Living, South Florida History Magazine, and the Tampa Tribune. An award-winning author and public speaker, Denham was awarded the Florida Historical Society's Arthur W. Thompson Prize in 1992 and in 2002 he was awarded the society’s James J. Horgan Book Prize for Florida Sheriffs.


Ph.D, M.A., B.A., History, Florida State University

Honors and Awards

  • Awarded Tenure - 2011
  • Preservationist of the Year, City of Lakeland - 2005
  • James J. Horgan Book Award, Florida Historical Society, for Florida Sheriffs - 2002

Current Projects

Denham has lectured widely throughout the state for the Florida Humanities Council and other organizations. He is a frequent contributor to Florida Public Radio. Denham has also served fellowships at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, the University of South Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, Columbia University, the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, and the Virginia Historical Society.

Publications and Exhibitions

Book Chapters

With Canter Brown, “South Carolina Volunteers in the Second Seminole War: A Nullifier Debacle as Prelude to the Palmetto State Gubernatorial Election of 1836” in W. Steve Belco, ed. America’s Hundred Years War: U. S. Expansion to the Gulf Coast and the Fate of the Seminole, 1763-1858. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011, 209-36.

“Victoria Seward Varn Brandon Sherrill: South Florida Women as Community Builders”, in Larry Rivers and Canter Brown, eds. The Varieties of Women’s Experiences: Portraits of Southern Women in the Post-Civil War Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010, 54-63.