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 two weeks in advance (click on the paper title below). Do not cite without the author's permission.



Next Meeting: March 29, 2013!

Jacob Lee, University of California - Davis

In Cahokia's Wake: Middle America from Mississipians to Marquette and Jolliet



On June 25, 1673, the town of Peouarea received unexpected visitors. The Peoria Indians, a division of the Illinois nation living near the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers, greeted the visitors with the calumet, a pipe ceremony that converted strangers into allies.  Over several days, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet gained valuable information about the Peorias, their allies with whom they traded, and their enemies whom they warred against and enslaved.  Far from finding remnants of shattered nations, Marquette and Jolliet entered a world in which the Illinois had built a kinship-based alliance network, stretching from Lake Michigan to present-day Arkansas, from the Wabash River west to the Missouri River Valley.

This complex political world was the product of over three centuries of upheaval inaugurated by the fall of Cahokia at the dawn of the fourteenth century.  The collapse of this urban center sent shockwaves throughout middle America, as its inhabitants emigrated from the region and others moved in to fill the power vacuum.  By the early seventeenth century, the Illinois enforced clearly demarcated borders between allies and enemies.  French officials later believed themselves to have forged this alliance, but in reality, this was a Native political world that operated by its own cultural logic, even as European colonizers attempted to shape and control it.  This paper explores the migrations that followed in Cahokias wake and the creation of the Illinois-centered alliance that dominated much of the central Mississippi Valley by 1673.




Dr. Brad Wood (Eastern Kentucky University)

Dr. Darrell Meadows (Kentucky Historical Society)

Dr. Jane Calvert (University of Kentucky)

Dr. Kelly Ryan (Indiana University Southeast)

Dr. Daniel Krebs (University of Louisville)

Dr. Glenn Crothers (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

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, University of Indiana - 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