Ford Risley


Ford Risley

Distinguished Professor

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  • Journalism History
  • Civil War Journalism


  • Bachelor's: Auburn University
  • Master's: University of Georgia
  • Ph.D.: University of Florida



Ford Risley is a Distinguished Professor in the Bellisario College of Communications.

He served as associate dean for undergraduate and graduate education from 2014-2020. Prior to that, he was head of the Department of Journalism from 2002-2014.

He teaches mass media history, mass communication law, American journalism and other courses. He is a recipient of the Bellisario College Alumni Society Board's Excellence in Teaching Award.

His research centers on mass media history, especially Civil War-era journalism. He was the editor of American Journalism, the quarterly scholarly journal of the American Journalism Historians Association, from 2014-2020. In 2020, he received the AJHA’s Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History.

He is the author or editor of four books, including "Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell." His book, "Abolition and the Press: The Moral Struggle Against Slavery" (Northwestern, 2008) won the American Journalism Historians Association's award for the best book on media history. He also has published articles, essays and book reviews in American Journalism, Civil War History, Georgia Historical Quarterly and Journalism History.

Prior to joining Penn State, he spent 12 years as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. He holds a B.A. from Auburn University, a M.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

In the News


Risley, Ford. Civil War Journalism. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2012.

<p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle" text-indent:-.25in"=""> Risley, Ford. Abolition and the Press: The Moral Struggle Against Slavery. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2008.

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Ford Risley
4 Carnegie Building