Research Historian James McDonald conducts historical, museum, and litigation research. James received his B.A. in German Language from the University of Maryland. He studied and lectured at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität in Greifswald, Germany and worked in the fields of technology, knowledge management, design, and fabrication before completing his M.A. in the History of Technology, Science, and the Environment program at the University of Maryland.
As a historian James has investigated technological change in refrigerated transport, technological innovation in the German Democratic Republic, and wrote his master’s thesis on the modal change of milk transportation in Baltimore. He has presented papers on aspects of perishable transportation history at academic conferences such as the Agricultural Historical Society annual meeting and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) meeting, the latter under a SHOT/NEH travel grant award. His most recent studies involve perceptions of risk associated with railroad grade crossings and their role in reshaping urban environments, a subject on which he presented a paper at the 2019 D.C. History Conference. James has published extensively in railroad history periodicals and is in the leadership of two railroad historical societies.