Fields of Interest:
My principal research interests involve inter-colonial networks of migration, economic and intellectual exchange, and cultural cross-fertilization in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic world. I use the island of Bermuda as a historical laboratory to study the earliest phase of English colonization, African slavery in earliest Anglo-America, Puritanism, the structure of maritime communities, maritime slave labor systems, shipboard life, patterns in American coasting trades, and the American Revolution in a wider Atlantic context.
I address many of these subjects in my recently published book, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press/OIEAHC, 2010). I am currently revising a prequel, “At the Crossroads of the Atlantic: Bermuda and the Beginnings of English America, 1609-1684,” as a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (Fall 2010). I have also recently become interested in British and Loyalist experiences during the American Revolution and the impact of the war and refugee diaspora on what remained of British America after 1783.
Although my principal focus is in social and economic history, I adopt a broad range of approaches to studying early America's past and promoting public history. My ten years of archaeological fieldwork include excavations of colonial and Revolutionary sites in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and Bermuda, most notably with Jamestown Rediscovery at the original 1607 fort site in the summer of 1995.
Most recently (June 2010), I led a small field team that located more than a dozen archaeological sites on Smith’s Island, Bermuda – one of which may date to the early 17th century. I’ve worked with museum design teams and contributed to exhibits on Bermuda’s role in the American Civil War (as a Confederate blockade-running base) and George Washington’s experiences in Barbados. In combining documentary and architectural analysis, I spent much of 1996 and 1997 compiling the property histories of 400 houses in St. George’s, Bermuda, the oldest continuously occupied town in English America. This research formed the basis of my Bermuda's Architectural Heritage: St. George's, and was instrumental in St. George’s successful petition for UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000.
Having benefitted greatly from internships in archaeology and conservation and from working with many museums and historical institutions, I strongly encourage students to undertake internships and have supervised more than 30 UR public history interns over the past nine years.
I am also a firm believer in "experiential" history. I learned much about colonial artisans and technology while working as a blacksmith in a historic village in New Jersey, gained insights into 18th-century seafaring, colonial seaports, and shipboard life by teaching on the brigantine Corwith Cramer and schooner Harvey Gamage as a SEAmester instructor, and came to understand medieval gender relations and colonial sociability better through brewing mead, ale, and beer. Visiting the sites where one’s historical subjects lived and worked is also important. Raking salt in the Turks Islands, exploring ruined sugar mills in St. John, walking the streets of Cape Hatien, and pondering smallpox in the Haudenosaunee longhouse at Ganondagan have all led me to keen moments of historical clarity. By weaving together documents, artifacts, food, folklore, architecture, and recovered experiences, I strive to develop the fullest understanding possible of past peoples, places, and activities.
I offer the following fields for the PhD qualifying examination. For explanations of fields, see the "Graduate Overview" page in the Graduate Handbook.
Early American History
United States History I
Atlantic History, 1450-1850 (Transnational)
Material Culture and Archaeology (Transnational)
I will be accepting students for admission in Fall 2013.
- HIS 121: Introduction to History: Piracy
- HIS 146: Democratic America, 1800-1865
- HIS 269: Archaeology of Early America
- HIS 344W/444: When New York was the Wild West
- HIS 377W/377: Topics in Early American History
- HIS 378W/478: Topics in Revolutionary America