James P Rife

James P. Rife

Senior Historian

Work at HAI | Legal

Jamie is based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the site of the Civil War’s greatest battle, and serves as a senior historian, project manager, mentor, and marketer for the company. As a book and content writer, he works with clients to conceive, develop, and complete a wide array of historical research and writing products, from proposal to publication. He is also a master oral historian, interviewing hundreds of folks from all walks of life during his two-decade career at HAI. Jamie also specializes in the investigation of historic production and industrial sites, the compilation of corporate and environmental histories, and the documentation and analyses of Native American treaties, land claims, and transactions, with expert witness and deposition experience.

Jamie is a well-seasoned explorer and traveler, having journeyed to all corners of the country and everywhere in between. He specializes in military, naval, and maritime history, but can tackle business and environmental history equally well.

His clients include:

  • 1st Naval Construction Division
  • American Battlefield Trust
  • American Battle Monuments Commission
  • Cantigny First Division Foundation
  • Carlisle SynTec Systems
  • DuPont
  • Great Lakes Maritime Academy
  • I.B. Abel, Inc.
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • NARA Foundation
  • National World War I Museum
  • National World War II Museum
  • Naval History and Heritage Command
  • Naval Historical Foundation
  • Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.
  • U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • U.S. Indian Health Service
  • U.S. National Park Service
  • U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division

Path to HAI | Legal

Jamie’s Odyssean journey to becoming a historian began during his childhood in rural Southwestern Virginia, where he grew up immersed in mountain legends and Civil War history. His early interest in military history was sparked by the stories veteran family members shared with him about their own experiences in the World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. After a detour into classical piano studies and a post-high school technical education at Bluefield State College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1993, Jamie decided that he would make a much better teacher and historian than an engineer. So in 1995 he enrolled at King College (now University) in Bristol, Tennessee, to study Russian and Modern European history, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree there in 1997.

Jamie then returned to his backcountry roots by enrolling at Virginia Tech to study Early American history, researching and writing his thesis on “The Causes and Course of Dunmore's War, 1744-1774,” a frontier Indian conflict about which he had grown curious from reading the many historical markers dotting Southwest Virginia’s roads and highways. After receiving his Master of Arts degree in 1999, he entered the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. There, he shifted his focus to Cold War studies, a most convenient choice considering the proximity of the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a key production site for the Manhattan Project of World War II.

Due to a university financial crunch though, Jamie left Knoxville in 2000 and joined HAI as a historian in January 2001, where he thrived, researching and writing twelve books and several articles, conducting hundreds of oral histories, delivering a variety of historical presentations, mentoring junior staff members, and successfully managing many litigation research projects. Jamie left HAI in April 2020 at the beginning of the global pandemic to work near his home as an independent consulting historian but returned in June 2024. He has now resumed his career at HAI as a senior historian and project manager, bringing his extensive records knowledge and field experience to the company’s newest generation of young historians.