Mohl grew up in New York and played high school basketball for the Washington Irving Authors in Tarrytown, New York. After graduating in 1957 he earned a bachelor of arts at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, then went on to complete a master's at Yale University and a Ph.D. at New York University in 1967. Mohl adapted his doctoral dissertation on poverty in New York City in the late 18th and early 19th century for publication by the Oxford University Press in 1971.
Mohl began his academic career at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana and continued his research on urban poverty with a new focus on race and ethnicity in the "Rust Belt" of the 20th century. Later, during his 26-year career at Florida Atlantic University, Mohl examined issues of immigration, race and civil rights in the Miami area. He was promoted to chair of the Department of History. Mohl was also a frequent contributor to the Miami Times. He testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1995, and served as an expert witness in court battles over fair housing and voting rights in Dade County. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Historical Society.
Mohl was awarded Fulbright fellowships to teach at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel; the University of Western Australia in Perth; and the University of Göttingen, Germany. He also taught as a guest professor at Florida State University's London Study Center and at the University of New Orleans.
After coming to UAB as a full professor and chair of the Department of History in 1996, Mohl researched Hispanic immigration in the American South. Since then he has been awarded the Frederick W. Connor Prize in the History of Ideas in 2001, the Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction, and the UAB Graduate School Dean's Excellence in Mentorship Award in 2010.
His expertise on the history of urban highway planning was valued by fellow members of Rethink 20/59.
Mohl retired from UAB in September 2014. He died of cancer in Boca Raton, Florida a few months later. He was survived by his second wife, Sai Sai Dong; two children, Nancy Kristoferson and Raymond Jack Mohl; and two grandchildren.
- Mohl, Raymond A. (1971) Poverty in New York 1783–1825. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195013670
- Mohl, Raymond A. & James F. Richardson (1973) The Urban Experience: Themes in American History Wadsworth Publishing Co. ISBN 0534002870
- Mohl, Raymond A. & Ronald D. Cohen (1979) The Paradox of Progressive Education: The Gary Plan and Urban Schooling Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press
- Mohl, Raymond A. (1985) The New City: Urban America in the Industrial Age, 1860-1920. Harlan Davidson Inc. ISBN 0882958305
- Mohl, Raymond A. & Neil Betten (1986) Steel City: Urban and Ethnic Patterns in Gary, Indiana 1906–1950. Holmes & Meier Publishers. ISBN 0841910103
- Mohl, Raymond A., Kenneth W. Goings, eds. (1996) The New African American Urban History. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications ISBN 9780761903086
- Mohl, Raymond A. (2003) South of the South: Jewish Activists and the Civil Rights Movement in Miami, 1945-1960. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0813029228
- Mohl, Raymond A. & Mark Rose (2012) Interstate: Highway Politics and Policy since 1939 Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1572337257