PhD West Virginia University, 2014
MA West Virginia University, 2010
BA The College of William & Mary, 2008
19th-Century U.S. History, Civil War & Reconstruction, Public History, U.S. South, Cultural History, History & Memory
My current book project, The Last Confederate Christmas: Slaveholding Women, Ritual, and Authority in the Confederate Capital, examines the ways through which the wives & daughters of Confederate politicians, officers, & businessmen in Richmond, Virginia attempted to maintain their social & political authority in the Confederate capital during the chaos of civil war. Specifically, I analyze these women’s “social performances”--their use of cultural rituals such as theater-going, church-going, parlor parties, holiday celebrations, charity benefits, promenading, & “starvation parties” as a means to try to reinstitute order & reaffirm their precarious socio-political position in the face of constant threats from the influx of newcomers & wartime vice proliferating in Richmond. In carefully selected urban spaces--public & private--the leading ladies “performed” & negotiated for power with the city poor, prostitutes, slaves, & refugees in order to preserve the societal pillars upon which the Confederacy rested. However, their staunch commitment to these increasingly ineffectual rituals revealed a fundamental disconnect between wartime reality & that which the ladies were willing to accept, their actions ultimately alienating them from the very class of individuals whose deference they so desperately sought & needed to maintain stability on the home front. Indeed, such performances--adopted to purge the Confederate capital of its threatening social pretenders & their vices—exposed Richmond’s leading ladies as some of the biggest social pretenders of all.
I am also an active public historian with over 15 years of professional experience in interpretation, preservation, digital & oral history, archival work, & education. Prior to arriving at CWI, I spent 10 years working for the National Park Service, including 8 years at Richmond National Battlefield Park. While at RNBP, I researched, planned, & conducted a wide range of public programs (including serving as the co-planner & co-leader of the park’s Civil War 150th programs), supervised interns & seasonal staff, served as the park’s training & operations liaison for volunteers, & authored multiple operational & interpretive manuals about the park’s battlefield units. I also worked for two years as an historical consultant, writing articles, leading interpretive walking tours, delivering public talks on a range of Civil War & public history-related topics, & working as a public history instructor in WVU’s History Department. My articles have appeared on a variety of blogs, magazines, & scholarly journals. My most recent work, “From Women’s History to Gender History: Revamping Interpretive Programming at Richmond National Battlefield Park,” was published in the June, 2016 issue of the journal Civil War History.
On campus, I manage the CWI Student Fellows program, in which I work with our Fellows on a variety of research and writing projects, including: CWI's digital history project, "Killed at Gettysburg," scholarly articles for CWI's blog, The Gettysburg Compiler, Gettysburg National Military Park's new interpretive wayside project, a Civil War photography exhibition, and various interpretation projects for social media involving the battlefield, Gettysburg's civilians, and battlefield monuments. I am also the project manager for "Killed at Gettysburg." Additionally, I serve as the coordinator of CWI's annual summer conference, for which I regularly lead talks and tours.
Article From Women’s History to Gender History Civil War History, Vol. 62, No. 2