Broadly speaking, my scholarly interests include African American history, politics, visual culture, and material culture. My research incorporates a broad variety of original documents - court records, images, church registers, pamphlets, books, newspapers, ephemera, wills, and other legal materials - to examine the complex histories of African American communities and activism.
My current book project, Visualizing Equality: African American Champions of Race, Rights, and Visual Culture, which will be published by the University of North Carolina Press, examines the changing roles of black visual artists who used various visual technologies to produce images that envisioned black social equality, political enfranchisement, and freedom from slavery. Moreover, these artists’ networks of transatlantic patronage, international travels, and their commentaries on black emigration to the Caribbean reveal their extensive involvement in the cultures of racial representation and the politics of anti-slavery. This project identifies these artists as cultural producers who paired their activism and their artistry to make broad claims about the future of African Americans and the United States. A portion of this research can be found in my article, "The Art of Racial Politics: The Work of Robert Douglass Jr., 1833–46," by clicking here.
In addition to my first book project, I have developed a research agenda that includes smaller projects that center the stories of fugitive slaves, contraband slaves during the U.S. Civil War, and the creators of African American family photo albums. Early African American newspapers and the construction of free black communities in the North are topics that animate my research.
I am very grateful that numerous institutions have supported my research. These include the American Antiquarian Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the University of Michigan, Emory University, Salisbury University, and Williams College.