Tim Blessing

Tim H. Blessing, Ph.D.

Professor of History and Political Science


Educational background

  • Ph.D. in History, The Pennsylvania State University, 1989
  • MPA (1976), MA (1984) The Pennsylvania State University
  • BA (1974), University of Wyoming




Dr. Blessing’s areas of specialty include:

  • The American Presidency
  • Leadership Studies
  • Leadership in Popular Culture
  • Political History
  • The Early American Republic


Teaching Recognition


  • Finalist (1991): The Pennsylvania State University Teacher of the Year Award (Hetzel Award)
  • Finalist (1992): The Pennsylvania State University Teacher of the Year Award (Hetzel Award)


Publications and Presentations

  • “The Presidential Performance Study: A Progress Report,” Journal of American History, September, 1983 (co-authored with Robert K. Murray)
  • Greatness in the White House: Historians Rate the Presidents, Washington through [Carter (first edition)] [Reagan (second edition)] (Penn State Press: 1988, 1994)     (co-authored with Robert K. Murray)
  • "Robert W. Fogel and the Illusion of Empiricism,"  Pennsylvania Journal of Economics (Fall, 1991).
  • “Three Swings and Ten Dynasties: The Temporal-Historical Aspects of Presidential Performance,” The Presidential Studies Quarterly, (July, 1995)
  • “The American Revolution and the Upper Juniata Valley: The Reconfirmation of  Localism,” (chapter), The Revolution in the Back Country of Pennsylvania. Eds. John Frantz and William Pencak (Penn State Press: 1998)
  • “Top Down: A General Overview of Present Research on Ronald Reagan=s Doctrinal Presidency,” (chapter), Reassessing the Reagan Presidency. Ed. Richard S. Conley (University Press of America: 2003)
  • “Presidents and Significance: Partisanship as a Source of Perceived Greatness.” White House Studies Quarterly (Summer, 2003)
  • Reprinted in: Meena Bose and Mark Landis,  Eds., The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings (Hauppauge, NY, Nova Publishers, 2003.)
  • “The Lewistown Riots, 1791-1793 A Micro-analytic Approach.” Pennsylvania History (December, 2004)


Encyclopedia Article and Reviews

  • "Scholarly Ratings of the Presidents."  Encyclopedia of the American Presidency. Leonard Levy and Louis Fisher, Editors.  New York: Simon and Shuster, 1994.
  • Review of William Pencak, ed., The White House: The First Two Hundred Years, The Journal of American History (March, 1995):1694-1695.
  • Review of David K. Nichols. The Myth of the Modern Presidency, for H-Pol@h-net.msu.edu (September, 1998).
  • Review of Lynn Hudson Parsons. John Quincy Adams for H-SHEAR@h-net.msu.edu (January, 1999).
  • Review of Timothy Walch, ed. Uncommon Americans: The Lives and Legacies of Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover for Presidential Studies Quarterly (Winter, 2004)
  • Review of Don Higgebotham, George Washington: Uniting A Nation for H-War (April, 2005)



  • "The Epistemology of the 1920s Businessman: The Twain Diverges." Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, Philadelphia, PA, 1983.
  • "New Roles for Volunteer Groups in Local History," Daughters of the American Colonists Symposium on Local History, Harrisburg, PA, 1984.
  • "The Systems of an Appalachian Region--Pennsylvania's Juniata Valley, 1754-1985." 1989 Southern Cultural Association Conference, April, 1989.
  • "The American Thirty Years' War: The Indian Wars in the Humid East." The 1989 Eastern Historical Geographer's Association Conference, October, 1989.
  • "The Deurbanization of an Appalachian Society." Twenty-Third Annual Duquesne University History Forum, October, 1989.
  • "New Perspectives on Mental Sets." Twenty-Fourth Annual Duquesne History Forum, October, 1990.
  • "Medieval Families and Modern Dysfunctional Families: Parallels to be Considered." Center for Ancient and Early Studies 1990 Conference, October, 1990.
  • "Economic Legacy of Ronald Reagan," New York State Economic Association, October, 1990.
  • "The Presidential Study and the Ranking of Ronald Reagan," Northeast Political Science Association, November, 1990.
  • "Ronald Reagan and History," Organization of American Historians, April 13, 1991.
  • "The Use of the Osgood Semantic Differential Scale to Measure Shifts in Public Opinion During the Persian Gulf War," Pennsylvania Sociological Association Conference, October, 1991.
  • "A Historical Perspective on Attitude Change During the Persian Gulf War." American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, August, 1992.
  • "A Matrix of Greatness: A Comparison of American Presidents and Medieval Rulers Selected by Medievalists." New York Society of European Historians Annual Meeting: September, 1992.
  • “Student Attitude Shifts During the Gulf War,” Social Science History Association, October, 1993.
  • “The Impact of the War of 1812 on Public Mentalités,” Duquesne History Forum, October, 1993.
  • “The American Revolution in the Upper Juniata Valley of Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Historical Association, October, 1996.
  • “The Filtered Presidency,” The Pennsylvania Political Science Association, April, 1999.
  • “Presidents and Significance: Partisanship as a Source of Perceived Greatness.” Hofstra Conference on Presidential Ratings, October 2000.
  • “Physical Boundaries and the Maintenance of Political Enmity: Mifflin and Juniata Counties Pennsylvania, 1791-1920.” Pennsylvania Geographic Society, Wilkes-Barre, PA, October, 2000.
  • “The Lewistown Riots, “ Pennsylvania Historical Association, October, 2001.
  • “Room to Talk: A Comparison of Context in Medieval and U.S. Political Leadership,” International Leadership Association Conference, Miami, FL, November 2001.
  • “Ronald Reagan: Popularity and Personality,” Conference on the Reagan Presidency, March, 2002. (University of California at Santa Barbara)
  • “Strangers in a Disordered Land: The West Moves East,”  Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, 2003 Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, July, 2003.
  • “The West Flows East: the Dominance of Athe West” in Pennsylvania=s 1789-1790 Constitutional Convention,” Pennsylvania Historical Association, 2003 meeting, Harrisburg, PA., October, 2003.
  • “Glenn Miller at 100: Towards a Reassessment of his Place in Popular Culture,” Northeast Popular Culture Association, 2003 meeting, Worcester, MA, November, 2003.
  • “A Contrarian View of Leaders and Communication: Restricting Communication as a Leadership Tool,” International Leadership Association, 2003 Meeting, Guadalajara, Mexico, November, 2003.
  • Served as a discussant on a three-person panel: The American Presidency in a Post 9/11-Post Iraq War World: Historical, Constitutional, and Institutional Perspectives,” The International Leadership Association, 2003 Meeting, November, 2003, Guadalajara, Mexico
  • “Don’t Hate Us Because We Are Popular,” [A discussion of the intersection between Leadership Studies and Popular Culture Studies] [Invited paper], Popular Culture Association National Meeting, April 10, 2004.
  • “Glenn Miller at 100: A Reassessment of his Impact on Popular Culture,” British Association of American Studies, 2004 Meeting, Manchester, United Kingdom, April 18, 2004.
  • “Evaluating Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush: The New Blessing-Skleder Survey,” The International Leadership Association, 2004 Meeting, Washington, D.C. , November 5, 2004.
  • “Control, Violence and Independence: The Huntingdon County-Mifflin County Border Dispute, 1790-1792,” Pennsylvania Historical Association, 2005 Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, October 21, 2005.
  • “The Right Time, the Right Place, the Right Leader: A Model of Punctuated Equilibrium and Leadership” 2005 International Leadership Conference Annual Meeting, Amsterdam, NL; November 4, 2005.
  • “Myths, People and Presidents: the Meta-Analysis of Group Myths as Detected by the Murray-Blessing and Blessing-Skleder Surveys,” 2005 International Leadership Conference, Amsterdam, NL; November 5, 2005.
  • “Comparing the First & Last Nine Presidents: The Breakdown of the Selection Process,” 2006 British Association of American Studies, Canterbury, UK; April 21, 2006.
  • “Rising to the Theoretical: Encouraging Mid-Career Professionals to Encounter Classic Theoretical Structures,” 2007 International Leadership Conference, Vancouver, CA ; November 2, 2007.
  • “Defining a Free Press: Shades of Meaning in the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.” Northeast Political Science Association; Philadelphia, PA; November 16, 2007.
  • “Historians and Presidential Abuses of Power: A Look at the Conservative-Liberal Divide.” 2008 British Association of American Studies, Edinburgh (Scotland), UK; March 29, 2008.
  • “Commonalities Among the Eight Leading Presidents: A Tentative Theory of Process and Founding.” Conference on “Attributes of Successful Presidents.” Massachusetts School of Law, Andover MA; April 27, 2008. 


Scholarly Recognition:


Pennsylvania Humanities Council: Commonwealth Speaker (2004-2006.)
Service Recognition



  • Fishwick Travel Grant for Travel to Popular Culture Archives (2004) [Funds for travel to Glenn Miller Archives in Boulder, Colorado.
  • Grant for the NEH Summer Seminar: “The Early American Republic and the Problem of Governance.”

Faculty Video



Contact Information

Tim Blessing

Professor of History and Political Science

     Francis Hall 231
     Fax: 610.790.1908


Courses Taught

American Courses:


  • Colonial America (to 1754)
  • American Revolution and Constitution
  • The Era of the Civil War
  • Jacksonian and Ante-Bellum America
  • The Era of the Civil War (Civil War and Reconstruction)
  • America's Industrial Revolution and the Age of Reform (1877-1920)
  • America's Trial (1920-1954)
  • America in the Late Twentieth Century
  • American Historiography


  • The Study of American History
  • American Conflicts (Race, Gender, and Preparedness/Pacifism in the Twentieth Century)


European Courses:



  • Tudor History
  • History of the French Revolution
  • Greco-Roman
  • Late Antiquity and Early Medieval
  • The High Middle Ages
  • Early Modern
  • The "Root” Centuries of Christianity
  • The Age of Revolutions


  • The Study of European History


Other Courses:


History Courses

  • Third-World History (Middle Eastern)
  • The History of Medicine and Disease
  • History of Science
  • History of Murder
  • Research Seminar
  • Pennsylvania and Local History

Political Science Courses

  • Introduction to Political Science
  • Comparative Governments
  • The Presidency
  • Legislative Processes
  • American Political Parties
  • American Foreign Policy I (to 1898)
  • American Foreign Policy II (since 1898)
  • Internship Supervision


Other areas:


  • Introduction to Geography
  • Cultural Geography I
  • Contemporary American Culture


Graduate Courses:


  • Statistical Methods for Sociologists (St. Joseph’s University)
  • Advanced Systems Analysis ******
  • Presidency *********


@ The Pennsylvania State University:


  • American Civilization
  • Western Civilization to 1715
  • Western Civilization since 1715
  • Non-Western Cultures
  • Middle Eastern
  • Middle Eastern (Honors)
  • Pre-Columbian Native American
  • Pre-Columbian Native American (Honors)
  • African
  • Japanese
  • American History to 1865
  • American History since 1865
  • American History since 1865 (Honors)
  • History of Pennsylvania
  • Introduction to Political Science
  • World Political Theory
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