Kentucky Early American Seminar

The Kentucky Early American Seminar is a group of historians from various universities in Kentucky and Indiana who meet informally during Spring and Fall semesters to discuss pre-circulated papers on any topic concerning the colonial through the early national period in North America.


All meetings are held at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Ky., on Fridays, 5 - 6.30pm.  See here fore a map of the campus and driving directions from the west (Louisville) and east (Lexington). Following the discussions, participants usually gather for a social hour/dinner at a local restaurant. Papers are made available for download on this website (click on the paper title below) or via email through Kelly Ryan and Brad Wood. Do not cite without the author's permission.

Next Meeting: March 18!

Methodism, Settlement, and Social Capital in the Old Northwest

Dr. Hunter Price, Western Washington University

Paper will be distributed via email!

This chapter derives from a book manuscript currently titled “The Traveling Connexion: Methodism, Social Capital, and the Settlement of the Early American West, 1760-1845.” The chapter examines the ways Methodists used religious institutions after moving into southern Ohio in the years following the American Revolution. It gives particular attention to religious institutions but departs from traditional histories of the denomination. Seeking fresh insight into the character and function of early American religious institutions, the chapter analyzes the social functions of the itinerancy (or the “traveling connexion,” as contemporaries often called it), which was Methodism’s signal contribution to early American religious organizing. The chapter also takes a broader view of what should count as a religious institution and thus considers group migrations, principally from Virginia to Ohio, and exchange relationships, particularly correspondence networks. The methodology draws on ethnohistory and studies of early-modern communications. The source base includes little-consulted correspondence and disciplinary records. The argument that results is that settlers found in Methodism a voluntary society that was well suited to rural contexts, that could be bent to uses both sacred and profane, and that, finally, was an important social institution of white settler colonization of the commercializing frontier of the Old Northwest.


Upcoming Presentations

April 8 - Crossing Borders: Rites of Passages among Colonial and Revolutionary American Soldiers

Dr. Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville

Life from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, particularly military life, was very dynamic and full of movements. Crossing any border – be it political, spatial, social, or cultural – could be a complex and difficult, even dangerous process. Often such journeys were made possible only by way of rituals. When considering the worlds of soldiers in colonial and revolutionary North America, transitions were indeed everywhere. What happened, for example, when colonial American militiamen moved repeatedly between "military" and "civilian" lives - and between coastal “English” regions and "Indian country" further inland? How were soldiers and officers made in this society? How were new members initiated in a unit – or punished and even excluded for transgressions? What happened when soldiers (or sailors) went on campaign or into battle, often against unfamiliar peoples and cultures during increasingly large-scale, far-away, imperial conflicts? How did soldiers deal with disease, battle wounds, or death? What about their daily lives, from guard duty and work details to food and housing? How did soldiers leave the military and rejoin civilian society? How did they celebrate victory, or cope with defeat and the dangers of captivity (especially in Indian hands)? To answer such questions, I will examine a number of first-hand and other accounts by colonial and revolutionary American soldiers and show how a variety of symbolic and ritual acts made such passages possible, understandable, and tangible for soldiers of all ranks. At the same time, these rites were also complex tools for negotiating relationships – on all levels, among participants and between actors and spectators.



Dr. Brad Wood (Eastern Kentucky University)

Dr. Kelly Ryan (Indiana University Southeast)

Tony P. Curtis (Kentucky Historical Society)

Dr. Daniel Krebs (University of Louisville)


Next Meetings and Papers

To submit a paper for discussion, please contact Brad Wood or Kelly Ryan. Papers should not exceed fifty pages, including notes, and should include a brief abstract.


Past Papers

February19, 2016: Dr. Kylie Hulbert, Bellarmine University: ""A Privateering We Will Go": Revolutionary Experiences on the Atlantic"

October 23, 2015: Dr. Kristopher Ray, Dartmouth College and Austin Peay State University: "The Indians of every denomination were free, and independent of us’: White Southern Explorations of Indigenous Slavery, Freedom, and Society, 1772-1830"

March 27, 2015: Dr. Jane Calvert, University of Kentucky: "The Complete Writings and Selected Correspondence of John Dickinson"

February 27, 2015: Dr. Kelly Ryan, Indiana University Southeast: "Perpetrators and Victims:  Women's Experiences of Violence in the Northeast, 1780-1820"

January 23, 2015: Dr. Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville: "Warfare on Distant Shores: Recruitment and Social Composition of the "Hessians" During the American War of Independence"

December 5, 2014: Dr. Brad Wood, Eastern Kentucky University: "The Albemarle Settlements and the Challenge of Isolation (c. 1660-1700)"

November 14, 2014: Jeffery Lewis Stanley, University of Kentucky: “The Language of Race in Old Regime France and Saint-Domingue”

March 29, 2013: Dr. Jacob Lee, Indiana University: In Cahokia's Wake: Middle America from Mississipians to Marquette and Jolliet

February 22, 2013: Dr. Brad Wood, Eastern Kentucky University: Colonial North Carolina and the Limits of the Atlantic World

February 8, 2013: Dr. Kelly Ryan, Indiana University Southeast: Mediating Spousal Abuse in New England, 1760 - 1830

October 19, 2012: Dr. Kristalyn M. Shefveland, University of Southern Indiana: Reversing Their Removal from the Narrative: Native Labor in Virginia

April 20, 2012: Dr. Jane Calvert, University of Kentucky: Thomas Paine, Quakerism, and the Limits of Religious Liberty During the American Revolution

March 30, 2012: Dr. Kris Ray, Austin Peay State University and Senior Editor, Tennessee Historical Quarterly: Cherokees and Franco-British Confrontation in the Tennessee Corridor, 1748-1758

February 21, 2012: Dr. Brad Wood, Eastern Kentucky University: Creating and Contesting Carolina

October 14, 2011: Samantha M. Steele, University of Kentucky: The Captivity of Hannah Duston - Using Literature to Map the Changing Perceptions of Native Americans in New England Society

April 8, 2011: Dr. Brad Wood, Eastern Kentucky University: Thomas Pollock and the Making of an Albemarle Plantation World

March 11, 2011: Dr. Christopher Magra, University of Tennessee: Anti-Impressment Riots and the "Radicalism" of the American Revolution

February 4, 2011: Dr. Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville: Useful Enemies - German Prisoners of War During the American Revolution

September 9, 2011: Dr. Kristopher Ray, Austin Peay State University and Senior Editor, Tennessee Historical Quarterly: Cherokee-British Alliance along the Tennessee River, 1650-1750

November 4, 2011: Dr. Kristalyn M. Sheveland, University of Southern Indiana: "Wholy Subjected?" Anglo-Indian Interaction in Colonial Virginia, 1646-1718

November 14, 2014: Jeffery Lewis Stanley, University of Kentucky: The Language of Race in Old Regime France and Saint-Domingue