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Princeton dismisses Kevin Kruse plagiarism allegations as ‘careless cutting and pasting’

Cornell concludes separate investigation, also dismisses plagiarism charges against Kruse

<p>Photo Credit: Etta Recke / Office of Communications</p>

Photo Credit: Etta Recke / Office of Communications

On Oct. 7, University Professor of History Kevin Kruse announced on Twitter, that at Princeton and Cornell, investigations into alleged plagiarism in his work had been resolved. 

“So. As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been off Twitter for a few months — ever since these accusations were made against me,” Kruse wrote.

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Citing The Daily Princetonian’s reporting on the plagiarism allegations first-leveled against him by historian Phillip Magness in June, Kruse stated that both Princeton and Cornell University, where he received his doctoral degree, recently wrapped up separate investigations into the alleged instances. Magness had accused Kruse of plagiarizing sections of both his 2000 doctoral dissertation at Cornell, as well as his 2015 monograph, “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,” published by Basic Books.  

In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Kruse said he appreciated both Princeton and Cornell for having initiated and completed thorough investigations into the research misconduct allegations.

“I’m deeply grateful that Cornell and Princeton took the time to investigate the allegations against me and ultimately determined there was no academic misconduct on my part. While the whole experience was a bit unnerving, the results are gratifying,” Kruse wrote.

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As an academic and left-leaning historian who has cultivated a reputation as “History’s Attack Dog,” Kruse’s return to Twitter after remaining silent during the plagiarism misconduct investigations represents a new chapter for the professor, who has amassed a considerable online following — over 500,000 — for his political and historical punditry.

In the Twitter thread announcing the news, Kruse included samples of documents issued by both universities announcing the findings of each of their investigations.

One of these documents, a letter addressed to Kruse on Aug. 9, by Cornell’s Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education Kathryn J. Boor, concerned Kruse’s doctoral thesis submitted to Cornell Graduate School in 2000, titled “White flight: Resistance to desegregation of neighborhoods, schools[,] and businesses in Atlanta, 1946-1948.” 

Boor, writing to provide an update on a meeting that took place on Aug. 8, stated that Kruse “copied” a total of 66 words in passages from Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Ronald H. Bayor’s 1996 book “Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta” as well as a passage totaling at 51 words from “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit” (also published in 1996), a book written by Thomas Sugrue, a historian at New York University, in his doctoral dissertation.

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However, Boor also emphasized that the examined evidence yielded no proof of deliberate plagiarism on Kruse’s part, leading her to conclude that “these citation errors were made without intent to plagiarize from these scholars’ works.”

“This element of ‘intent’ is a key criterion for evaluating alleged plagiarism under Cornell University’s Code of Academic Integrity,” Boor wrote, further taking into account the fact that Kruse rectified the inadvertent copying errors in the 2005 edition of his dissertation, titled “White flight: Atlanta and the making of modern conservatism,“ published by Princeton University Press. 

According to the letter, Cornell University and the Graduate School “will continue to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and the resolution of this case.”

At Princeton, Dean of the Faculty Gene A. Jarrett initiated an investigation into the plagiarism concerns raised by Magness consistent with procedures outlined in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty of Princeton University. Part of these proceedings entails the creation of an ad hoc committee, consisting of University faculty members, vested with the duties of conducting a formal investigation into the available evidence.

According to the Tweets shared by Kruse, Princeton’s investigation determined that Kruse’s actions “did not constitute a violation of the research misconduct policy.”  



Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss confirmed to the ‘Prince’ the contents of Kruse’s tweeted statement of the University report, but declined to comment further.

Despite the findings that the allegations against Kruse were unfounded, Magness continues to steadfastly defend his original allegations of plagiarism against Kruse. 

In response to Kruse’s Tweet thread on Oct. 7, Magness criticized the Princeton professor. In a tweet, Magness highlighted passages in which he alleges that Kruse copied language from historian Rick Perlstein’s book “Nixonland.”


In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Magness questioned the University’s commitment to academic integrity in dismissing Kruse’s alleged instances of plagiarism.

Magness cited page six of the University’s “Academic Integrity” rulebook to emphasize what he argued is a disconnect between the University’s decision with respect to the plagiarism allegations against Kruse and its official policies concerning student plagiarism.

“Princeton's administration is absolutely applying a double standard to protect a high-profile faculty member,” wrote Magness, quoting page six of the rulebook, which reads, “Ignorance of academic regulations or the excuse of sloppy or rushed work does not constitute an acceptable defense against the charge of plagiarism.” 

He added, “The released report acknowledges that Kruse engaged in sloppy work, then cites that as if it is a valid defense against plagiarism — completely contradicting their own policy for students.” 

“All I have asked for though is for universities such as Princeton and Cornell to hold faculty to the same academic integrity standards that they require for students. So far, both have fallen short of that minimum expectation,” continued Magness.

Bayor, who Magness had accused Kruse of plagiarizing, has previously told the ‘Prince’ that the accusations against Kruse were “politically motivated” and that “there is not a story here.”

Kruse appears ready to move beyond this episode. At the end of his Tweet thread, the professor wrote that “[a]fter all these months, I’m looking forward to moving on now.”

Kruse is currently teaching the course HIS 383: The United States, 1920–1974 for the Fall 2022 semester.

Amy Ciceu is a senior writer who often covers research and COVID-19-related developments. She also serves as a Newsletter Editor. She can be reached at aciceu@princeton.edu.

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