311 Conklin Hall
175 University Avenue
Newark, N.J. 07102
Research interests: early U.S. history, political economy, history of the corporation, legal history, economic history, political ecology, New York City history, federal and state constitutional history
Brian Phillips Murphy is Associate Professor in the History Department. His research is about the political economy of state-directed economic development, banking, and corporate chartering in the early American republic. At Rutgers he leads a project documenting New Jersey's 1947 state constitutional convention in partnership with the Quill Project at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. He is a faculty affiliate of the Rutgers University Center for State Constitutional Studies and a founding co-director of the Mediterranean Displacements Project.
Born in Paterson, N.J., Professor Murphy studied at Haverford College and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Before joining Rutgers in 2016 he previously taught at Baruch College, where he won a Whiting Fellowship for excellence in teaching and was a member of the faculty of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York.
Professor Murphy is the author of Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), which shared the James A. Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. The book links the development of the business corporation to state formation in the early American republic by looking at the chartering of banks and transportation enterprises by well-connected and financed political entrepreneurs. A chapter of the book appeared as an article in the April 2008 William and Mary Quarterly. Titled “‘A very convenient instrument’: The Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr, and the Election of 1800,” the article won the 2009 Richard L. Morton Award from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
Prof. Murphy is currently writing a book about the industrial development of the Passaic River in the New York-New Jersey estuarial region. Titled Great Falls: Water, Power, and Alexander Hamilton’s Vision for an Industrial America, the book examines the political economy and political ecology of industrial and energy policy in U.S. history and the founding of the city of Paterson. In 2023-2024 he will be researching and writing this book as the Helen and Robert Appel Fellow in History and Technology at the New-York Historical Society. This project has also been supported by research fellowships at the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon and the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello.
In 2020 Prof. Murphy became director of a curricular initiative at Rutgers-Newark to create an interdisciplinary program focused on studying the U.S. and state constitutions through the lens of climate change. This “Climate of American Constitutional Democracy” project won a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation in early 2020 and resulted in a new partnership with the Quill Project at Pembroke College, Oxford. In a Spring semester course, Rutgers undergraduates, graduate students, and Rutgers Law School students are documenting the proceedings of the 1947 New Jersey state constitutional convention, an effort that will culminate in the publication of a definitive digital publicly-accessible record of the convention. Prof. Murphy and his collaborator jointly presented this project at the 2022 International Association of Centers for Federalism Studies conference in Bilbao, Spain. To accompany this research project Prof. Murphy created an embedded spring semester study abroad program called "Constitutions and the Founding of the American Republic" that brings law, graduate, and undergraduate students in his course to Pembroke College for a week of seminars on constitutional self-government. This program was the first embedded study abroad program ever launched in the history department at Rutgers University-Newark. To learn more, visit the program website.
In 2021-22 Prof. Murphy was co-PI and manager of a U.S. Department of State’s IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) capacity-building grant award, which colleagues are using to set up a portfolio of their own faculty-led study abroad programs around the Mediterranean. In 2022 Prof. Murphy co-directed the Rutgers Global summer study abroad program "Sicily, Malta, and the Mediterranean World" that brought students to Malta and Sicily, Italy for several weeks to study the long history of migration and population displacement in the region.
Prof. Murphy was the guest curator of an exhibition on the history of banking in New York City at the Museum of the City of New York. He worked with the Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service to help develop the Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson, N.J. He has been a contributor at MSNBC and a contributing editor at Talking Points Memo. Prof. Murphy has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Politico, and many other publications, and been a frequent guest on television and radio programs to discuss New Jersey and New York City politics, the history of corporations, and political corruption. His scholarly writing has been cited on the floor of the U.S. Senate and in briefs at the United States Supreme Court and before federal circuit courts.
Creation of the American Republic (embedded study abroad to Pembroke College, University of Oxford)
U.S. History survey
Waterways in History (graduate)
Records of the 1947 New Jersey State Constitutional Convention (in partnership with Dr. Nicholas Cole, founding director of The Quill Project at Pembroke College, University of Oxford)
"The Climate of American Constitutional Democracy" initiative supported by the Teagle Foundation
Helen and Robert Appel Fellow in History and Technology, New-York Historical Society
Research Fellow, International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello
Research Fellow, Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon
James L. Broussard Best First Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
Richard L. Morton Article Prize, William and Mary Quarterly
Fellow, Rutgers Leadership Academy
Whiting Foundation Teaching Award
B.A., Haverford College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia
Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).
Winner of the 2016 James Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
“The Market Revolution,” in A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson, Sean Patrick Adams, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 95-110.
“‘A Very Convenient Instrument’: Aaron Burr, the Manhattan Company, and the Election of 1800,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 66 (April 2008), pp. 233-66.
Winner of the 2009 Richard L. Morton Award from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
Peer-Reviewed Publicly-Engaged Scholarship
Guest Curator, “Capital of Capital” Exhibition (peer reviewed), Museum of the City of New York, New York, N.Y., October 2011 – October 2012.
National Park Service, Researcher for “Historic Resource Study of the Paterson (N.J.) Great Falls National Historic Park,” on behalf of the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians, October 2015 – Spring 2019.
“A Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda.” Directed by Christopher Holt, Rock Road Pictures. Executive Producers: Jan Ellen Lewis, Joanne B. Freeman, Brian Phillips Murphy. Co-hosted by Joanne B. Freeman and Brian Phillips Murphy. Edited by Justin Cece. 2016.
Faculty Affiliate, Rutgers University Center for State Constitutional Studies
Honors College Director, Rutgers University-Newark, 2016-2020