Dr. Bigham was a member of the faculty of the University of Southern Indiana from the summer of 1970, when he received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, to his retirement in 2008.
A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he was educated in that city’s public schools. He graduated from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, in 1964, and during the following year was a Rockefeller Fellow at the Harvard Divinity School. He married Mary Elizabeth Hitchcock of New York City in September 1965. He was a graduate student at the University of Kansas until 1970, when he earned his Ph.D. in history. In July of that year, they moved to Evansville, Indiana, where he had accepted a teaching position at what was then the Evansville campus of Indiana State University, now the University of Southern Indiana.
His involvement in civic affairs has been as extensive as his professional activities and his writing. He has organized and/or been president of a variety of Evansville organizations–the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, the Evansville Arts and Education Council, the Metropolitan Evansville Progress Committee, the Evansville Museum, and Leadership Evansville, for which (1976-1979) he was the first executive director. He chaired the Evansville committee that observed the American Revolution Bicentennial during 1974-1977 and the committee that organized the city’s 175th anniversary celebration in 1987. He also created and for many years provided leadership for the Education Committee of the Rotary Club of Evansville. He organized and chaired the Indiana Council for History Education (1991 – 2002) and was president of the Indiana Association of Historians (1999 – 2000).
He was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (2000-2010) and the Lincoln States Bicentennial Task Force.
He is the author of a number of books, most of which examine urbanization and race in the Midwest and upper South. His most recent book, On Jordan’s Banks: Emancipation and its Aftermath in the Ohio River Valley, was published in November 2005 (University Press of Kentucky).