Professor in the Department of History and Art History, George Mason University momalle3@gmu.edu

From Philadelphia, PA. Research interests: Mostly in the era from 1865-1919. History of music, history of technology, history of money and exchange, digital media and digital history, history of immigration

Most recently, I finished a book on the life of Francis O’Neill. The book, The Beat Cop: Francis O’Neill and the Invention of Irish Music was published by the University of Chicago in May 2022.

With my colleague Matt Karush, I’m working on a website, Hearing the Americas, that will contextualize and explain early twentieth century pop music. We were awarded a grant from the NEH for this work.

I’m also researching a book on the relationship between history and genealogy, built around the fact that my great great grandparents were declared to be “colored” by Walter Ashby Plecker


BA Temple University in History and American Studies.

MA and Ph.D University of California, Berkeley.

Taught at

NYU 1988-1990, postdoc and visiting prof

Vassar College, 1990-1994

George Mason University, 1994-present

Selected Publications

Keeping Watch: A History of American Time (Viking/Penguin 1990)

Face Value: The Entwined Histories of Money and Race in America (Chicago 2012)

The Beat Cop: Francis O’Neill and the Invention of Irish Music (Chicago 2022)

Recent articles 

“’The Ten Dollar Founding Father’: Hamilton, Money and Federal Power,” in Claire Potter and Renee Romano, Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past (New Brunswick, NJ 2018).

“Dark Enough as It Is: Eddie Lang and the Minstrel Cycle,” in The Journal of Social History September 2018

“Like an Imposter, Through the Ranks of Good Society: Shinplasters and Everyday Life in the Antebellum US,” forthcoming in Nigel Dodd and Federico Neiburg eds. A Cultural History of Money in the Age of Empires (London, Bloomsbury, 2019)

Recent projects

With Mathew Karush and the Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, “Hearing the Americas.