Field of Study: Nineteenth Century U.S. History
Research Interests: Rural History, American South, Reconstruction, Environmental History, Legal History, American Capitalism, and Cultural History.
Dissertation Title (Working): “Alabama’s Public Wilderness: A Cultural History of Land Use in the Gulf South, 1866-1905”
Biography: I earned my B.A. in History at Auburn University in 2006, and completed my M.A. in History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2011. During my time at UAB, I served as Chair of the Honor Council for the College of Arts and Sciences and participated in the Vulcan Historical Review as an editorial board member and a contributor to the student-published journal. Upon acceptance to the Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), in 2013, I began working as a student of Ernest Freeberg. We currently have a digital humanities project about Knoxville’s most famous grocer-politician-millionaire: Cas Walker. The project will produce an archival deposit of oral histories at the East Tennessee History Center.
My dissertation, entitled “Alabama’s Public Wilderness: A Cultural History of Land Use in the Gulf South, 1866-1905,” tells how the agrarian-centered Homestead Acts of the Reconstruction era changed the public land system. Its repeal by “Redeemer” politicians heralded the emergence of a nascent southern lumber industry, which orchestrated the “age of cut-out and get-out” in haphazard destruction of the southern pine forests. Overall, it is an episode in the history of American capitalism, how the interactions between government, citizen, and private enterprise – in pursuit of public land – collided with nature.
Support for this project has been offered by the University of Tennessee History Department, including the Thomas and Kathryn Shelton Award (2015), Paul Bergeron Graduate Award (2016), and the Wheeler Graduate Research Award (2016). In addition, the University of Alabama’s Frances S. Summersell Short-Term Fellowship (2015), as well as the Friends Fellowship from the Alabama Department of Archives and History (2016) in Montgomery, has funded several research trips to archives throughout the state of Alabama. In the 2016-2017 academic year, in addition to writing my dissertation, I am serving as a researcher for the Knoxville History Project, as a writing tutor, and as a representative of the history department in the Graduate Student Senate.