Mark Souther is a historian based in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, where he teaches courses on the 20th-century U.S., New South, urban and suburban history, and public history. A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Mark earned his Ph.D. in History in 2002 from Tulane University in New Orleans, M.A. in History in 1996 from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, and B.A. in History in 1994 from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Mark has published three books, including New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City (Louisiana State University Press, 2006, paper 2013), American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, co-edited with Nicholas Dagen Bloom (Center for American Places, 2012), and Believing in Cleveland: Managing Decline in “The Best Location in the Nation” (Temple University Press, 2017). His current book project is titled Sandhill Cities: Metropolitan Ambitions on Georgia’s Fall Line and is under advance contract with LSU Press. He has also published a number of articles and essays, including in the Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Planning History, Georgia Historical Quarterly, and other journals and edited volumes.
In public history and digital humanities, Mark directs Cleveland Historical, a web and app project that curates Greater Cleveland through nearly 800 location-based stories and tours, Curatescape, a web and mobile framework that enables others to create projects similar to Cleveland Historical, and Cleveland Voices, a large and ongoing oral history project that reflects multiple community partnerships.
He has directed three National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) digital humanities grants, including Curating Kisumu: Adapting Mobile Humanities Interpretation in East Africa (2014-15) and Curating East Africa: A Platform and Process for Location-based Storytelling in the Developing World (2017-18) with Meshack Owino (which resulted in a Curatescape prototype for WordPress and MaCleKi, a map-based digital exhibit that shares collaboratively curated histories of places in Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya. A third NEH grant (2020-22) supported the development of PlacePress, a WordPress plugin for place-based storytelling, which was piloted by project partners in Detroit and New Castle, PA.
His newest digital project is Green Book Cleveland, which combines Victor H. Green’s famous travel guides, published between 1936 and 1966, with new research that expands our understanding of Black entertainment, leisure, and recreation in Northeast Ohio. The project has widened into a regional multi-partner collaboration.
Mark’s research has won numerous awards, including the Kemper & Leila Williams Prize in Louisiana History from the Historic New Orleans Collection and Louisiana Historical Association (for Best Book in Louisiana History), Michael V. Thomason Gulf South History Book Award from the Gulf South Historical Association (for Best Book in Gulf South History), John Nolen Research Fund Award from Cornell University Library, Journal of Planning History Prize (Honorable Mention) from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (for Best Article in Planning History), Hugh F. Rankin Prize from the Louisiana Historical Association (for Best Graduate Article in Louisiana History), Technology Commercialization Award from the Ohio Faculty Council, Outstanding Public History Award (Honorable Mention) from the National Council on Public History, and the Outstanding Public History Project Award from the Ohio Academy of History.
At CSU, Mark teaches the second half of the U.S. survey course and upper-division courses including Introduction to Public History and U.S. Urban History, as well as graduate seminars on the New South, Suburban History, and Urban Environmental History. He also serves as internship coordinator for the Department of History and has mentored nearly ninety interns over the past two decades.
In the area of professional service beyond the university, he serves on the board of directors of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, whose conference he was instrumental in bringing to Cleveland in 2017. He also served for twelve years on the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. He regularly serves as a peer reviewer of proposals to the National Endowment of the Humanities and other grant makers, book and article manuscripts for academic presses and journals, and tenure and promotion cases. Mark has also appeared frequently in media outlets in recent years, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Plain Dealer, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, NBC News, USA Today, ESPN, Politico, National Public Radio (All Things Considered), WBUR Boston, WWNO New Orleans, and WCPN Cleveland.
In addition to his work as a historian, Mark is an active trumpet player who currently plays in the Cleveland Repertory Orchestra and the Civic & Collegiate Wind Ensemble at Cuyahoga Community College. He lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife, daughter, and two cats.