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 Do not cite without the author's permission.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: February 19!

"A Privateering We Will Go": Revolutionary Experiences on the Atlantic

Dr. Kylie Hulbert, Bellarmine University

Paper will be distributed via email!

Privateers — state-sanctioned merchants encouraged to attack enemy shipping — operated as essential commodities traders in the Atlantic rim economy; during the war, they transformed their efforts into highly profitable operations. My overall project explains the significant role these merchants-turned-privateers played in the Revolution and traces their lives in ports both domestic and abroad. By examining the day-to-day lives of privateers as they crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean, the scope and impact of the American Revolution expands beyond our current geographical, political and social understandings. My project sheds light on these men and their journeys which took them far beyond the shores of the colonies into an Atlantic World where allies, commerce, patriotism, identity and pride all crossed national boundaries, where the process of revolution itself was international. Utilizing ships’ logbooks, eighteenth-century newspapers, personal correspondence and diaries, account books, memorandum and letter books, and published songs and memoirs, in tandem with the Revolutionary War Prize Cases from the Records of the Supreme Court, “Vigorous & Bold Operations” offers a political, social, economic, legal, and cultural window into the American Revolution through the motivations, actions, and experiences of American privateers.


Upcoming Presentations

March 18 - Methodism, Settlement, and Social Capital in the Old Northwest

Dr. Hunter Price, Western Washington University

The early republic's fastest growing religious movement entered the Old Northwest through the exodus of settlers from the slaveholding Upper South.  North of the Ohio River, Methodism's associational culture was a powerful institution of social capital for middling whites. This essay explores rural correspondence networks and Protestant disciplinary practices to understand the secular benefits and limits of that dynamic religious movement in the West.


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

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