Michael W. Fitzgerald was born in Chicago in 1956 and raised in Los Angeles. He received his B.A. from UCLA, and received his Ph.D. from there as well. As a graduate student, Fitzgerald was an editorial assistant at the Marcus Garvey papers project, and he was hired by St. Olaf in 1986 and has been here ever since, save for occasional leave replacements at Carleton College.

Fitzgerald is the author of the book “The Union League and Social Change in the Deep South During Reconstruction” (LSU, 1989) a study of African-American grassroots politics and its impact on the plantation system. His second book was a study of class in the urban African American community in the decades after slavery ended. The title was “Urban Emancipation: Popular Politics in Reconstruction Mobile” (LSU Press, 2002). His most recent books are “Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South” (Ivan R. Dee, 2007) and "Reconstruction in Alabama: From Civil War to Redemption in the Cotton South." (Louisiana State University Press, 2017). 

His current project is a Ku Klux Klan-connected family in Alabama during Reconstruction.

Various articles of his dealing with aspects of Reconstruction have appeared in the Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, and Civil War History.

Professor Fitzgerald specializes in southern history. He teaches in African American history, the Civil War era, and topical seminars on slavery, civil rights, and related topics.

The author is married to his history department colleague, Judy Kutulas, and they have two adult children, Alexander and Nathaniel.