Research Interests

  • US Intellectual and Cultural History
  • 19th-century U.S.
  • Museum Studies
  • World's Fairs
  • Technology


  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 1980
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1974

Awards, Honors, and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Malone Professor, 2010-2013
  • Guest Curator, “Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s,” an exhibition at the National Building Museum, (2010)
  • Buffalo Bill in Bologna (nominated by University of Chicago Press for Pulitzer Prize consideration, received 2006 Ray and Pat Browne Award from the Popular Culture Association for the Best Book by Multiple Authors) (2006)
  • Co-Principal Investigator on four $1M U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History Grants and PI, National Science Foundation Small Grant for Training and Research.
  • "Professor Rydell is one of the curators of the Adam Matthews's digital world's fair collection:"

Select Publications

  • Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, ed. with Laura Schiavo (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)
  • Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922, with Rob Kroes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005)
  • Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States, with John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000)
  • The Reason Why the Colored American is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition, ed. Frederick Douglass and Ida Wells (1893; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999)