I'm a historian of the early United States who writes about places, objects, and what their histories mean for us today. My book, Historic Real Estate, examines the history of historic preservation in the new nation, from debates over Indigenous earthworks after the War for Independence to the founding of house museums like George Washington's Mount Vernon in the years before the U.S. Civil War. It explains how early Americans debated the fate of historic sites like these to shape capitalist economies and society: what should - and should not - be for sale, how consumers should behave, and how labor should be valued.
I'm beginning a new book "The Corporate Origins of Cultural Property." It examines how residents of the early United States defined the value of items of shared significance, such as historic artifacts, art, and sacred spaces, and why they turned to incorporation as a means of collective ownership.
Though I'm a history professor, you'll often find me doing history outside the classroom. My students and I have partnered with The Woodlands of Philadelphia to create a podcast series about the site's history and with Hidden City Philadelphia to publish articles about underrepresented urban histories. I regularly join Nicholas Redding, President and CEO of Preservation Maryland, as co-host of the podcast series "The Professor and the Practitioner" on PreserveCast.
Whether you are a curious reader, prospective student, fellow historian, journalist on deadline, or kindred-spirited Philadelphian, I hope you'll take a look around and be in touch.