James Goff

"I started each major research project by wanting to understand more about my own background and heritage. As a result, there was a "personal stake" in each of the major projects I conducted along the way, from understanding my own religious background and heritage, to uncovering the historical foundations of the music I grew up singing."

Dr. James Goff earned his M.Div. from Duke University and his Ph.D from the University of Arkansas in 1987. Dr. Goff primarily researches issues pertaining to the late-19th and early-20th century U.S. South, American Religious History, Holiness and the Pentecostal Movement, and 20th Century Popular Culture (particularly Country and Gospel Music).

When asked about why he teaches, Dr. Goff replied: "I teach because I enjoy sharing the past with others. I believe that everyone enjoys and appreciates history IF they can find the relevance. As history teachers, our challenge is to help students identify exactly where that relevance lies."


Ph.D. University of Arkansas

Areas of Study

United States History, History of the New South and American Religious History

Selected Publications

Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988.

Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, co-edited with Grant Wacker. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002.


Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame, constructed for the SGMA by 1220 Exhibits, Nashville, TN, opened April 1999 on the grounds of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Dr. Goff served as the sole historian for the project and was involved in all aspects of planning and creating the museum from beginning to end. Since the museum opened, he has remained as an advisor for annual changes to displays and content.

Professional Memberships and Awards

Organization of American Church Historians

Society for Pentecostal Studies

Southern Gospel Music Association

Southern Historical Association

I. G. Greer Distinguished Professor of History, Appalachian State University, 2007-2009

Title: Department Chair, Professor
Department: Department of History

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-2282

Fax: (828) 262-4976

Office address
Anne Belk Hall 248B