About Dr. Nicole C. Kirk

history, business, religion, and material culture


I am a historian of American religious history, author, associate professor, and the Frank and Alice Schulman Chair of Unitarian Universalist History at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois. I joined the faculty at Meadville Lombard in 2012 after earning my Ph.D. in American Religious History at Princeton Theological Seminary.

I write about the ways religion, business, and technology mutually shaped one another in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. By tracing the ways Americans blended business and religion, I reveal the ways religion and business have borrowed from one another and developed the way Americans celebrate Christian holidays in the public sphere.

I teach a wide variety of courses on American religious history and historical surveys on the history of global Christianity, early Christianity, American religious history, global religions and multi faith dialogue, and leadership.

My current research focuses on American religious history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My research interests include business, religion, technology, and material and visual culture.  

My first book, Wanamaker’s Temple: The Business of Religion in an Iconic Department Store was published in October 2018 by New York University Press. My chapter “Black Humanism in Pre-War Chicago,” is a part of Anthony Pinn’s edited volume Humanism and the Challenge of Difference published by Palgrave MacMillan in September 2018, I served on the editorial board and a contributor to the two-volume set, A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism published in 2017 by Skinner House Press.

I am currently working on a book tentatively titled Railroad Religion: The Religious Worlds of Railroad Barons and Their Workers. This book explores the complex and surprising ways the construction of railroads and the wealth they produced transformed American religion