Our Faculty

William C. Leonard

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information

617 735-9883

Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 357
Office hours: by appointment.


Ph.D., Boston College; M.A., Northeastern University; B.S., B.A., University of Massachusetts at Lowell


When asked to describe what I do for a living I usually say "I am a historian who is interested in people's lives." My main areas of research and teaching focus upon American social, urban, racial, ethnic, and religious history, specifically Catholicism. My focus is on Boston history, a city I love and in which I live. When appropriate I have used Boston as "my extended classroom," something students seem to love and from which they learn a great deal. I have led walking tours of the South End, Beacon Hill, and the Black Freedom Trail. Helping students develop critical thinking and writing skills is my primary objective. Working with students and my colleagues has made teaching the most rewarding career I've ever had.

What I Love About Emmanuel:

What I love about Emmanuel is our focus on the liberal arts and the development of critical thinking skills. Our size allows for meaningful interactions between students and faculty on an almost daily basis. Being in Boston is great too!

Courses I Teach

  • HIST1105 - United States History to 1877
  • HIST1106 - United States History Since 1877 
  • HIST2105 - America Since 1960
  • HIST2128 - Immigrants in the American Experience
  • HIST2205 - Women in American History
  • HIST3107 - A History of Boston
  • HIST3111 - United States and Global Issues

Publications + Presentations


  • "Keeping the faithful: In Boston, as elsewhere in the United States, Hispanic immigrants arrive Catholic; they don't necessarily remain so." Boston College Magazine, Summer 2009.
  • "People of Color, People of Faith: 200 Years of Diversity in the Archdiocese of Boston" in Two Centuries of Faith: the Influence of Catholicism on Boston 1808-2008, Thomas H. O'Connor, editor, New York: The Crossroads Publishing Company, May 2009.
  • "Black and Irish Relations in Nineteenth Century Boston: The Interesting Case of Lawyer Robert Morris," Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Vol. 37 (1), Spring 2009: 65-85.
  • "Review of Stephen Puleo, The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paisani From the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day," The New England Quarterly March 2008.
  • "Review of Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon," The Journal of Popular Culture November 2005.
  • "Growing Together: Blacks and the Catholic Church in Boston," The Historian, June 2004.
  • "The Failure of Catholic Interacialism in Boston before Busing," Boston Histories: Essays in Honor of Thomas H. O'Connor, James O'Toole and David Quigley editors, Northeastern University Press, December 2003.
  • "Review of James M. O"Toole, Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920," The Pilot, August 16, 2002.
  • "Review of Christopher Owen Lynch, Selling Catholicism: Bishop Sheen and the Power of Television," New England Historical Association Newsletter Fall 1999.
  • "Review of Albert J. von Frank, The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston," H-Net Book Review (November, 1998).
  • "A Parish for the Black Catholics of Boston," Catholic Historical Review January 1997, 44-68.
  • "Review of Alexander von Hoffman, Local Attachments: The Making of an American Urban Neighborhood, 1850 to 1920," Technology and Culture July 1996.

Papers Presented and Panel Discussions

  • "Catholic Interracial Activity in Boston Before Busing," New England Historical Association Spring Conference, Tufts University (April 2000).
  • "The Significance of Race in American History; An Historical Perspective," Interdisciplinary Perspective on Race in U.S. Society, Campus Week of Dialogue on Race, Emmanuel College (October, 1999).
  • "Blacks and the Founding of the Catholic Church in Boston," Second Annual Boston-Area Graduate History Symposium, Boston, MA (March 1996).
  • Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship for Higher Education of Present and Prospective Teachers, 2004.

Research Focus

I am currently researching the life of Charles Lenox Remond, African-American abolitionist from Massachusetts who attended the World Anti-Slavery Conference in London in 1840.

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Emmanuel is a place where students broaden their sense of what’s possible and prepare for inspiring careers in an ever-changing world. Be here.