William (Robert) Billups

Image of Robert Billups


B.A. University of Norte Dame
O.M. University of Cambridge

Research Interests

Twentieth-Century US History
Civil Rights History
African American History
Digital History
History of Violence


"'Reign of Terror': Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955–1976"

Faculty Advisors

Joseph Crespino
Allen Tullos


Robert Billups researches violence against the US civil rights movement during the mid-twentieth century. Between the mid–1950s and mid–1970s, American white supremacists carried out numerous acts of political violence, including hundreds of bombings and arsons directed against civil rights activists, communities, and institutions. Robert's dissertation maps and analyzes those bombings and arsons, which many civil rights advocates denounced as terrorism. Though concentrated in southeastern states, anti–civil rights terrorism was a national phenomenon, and Robert is developing digital maps and graphs to analyze shifting patterns of racial violence in twentieth-century US history. In his dissertation and related work, he uses case studies to analyze how individuals and communities experienced anti–civil rights violence, resisted it, and rebuilt in its wake.

Robert is grateful to the LBJ Foundation, the American Jewish Archives, the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, and Emory's Laney Graduate School for supporting for his research.