Status: PhD Candidate

Adviser: Harry L. Watson

Graduate Email: rkdcolby@live.unc.edu


Curriculum Vitae

Education

BA University of Virginia, 2009
MA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015
MA Thesis: “The Continuance of an Unholy Traffic: The Virginia Slave Trade During the Civil War.”

Research Interests

I am a historian of the domestic slave trade, American slavery, the Civil War, the interactions of race and capitalism, and of the nineteenth century United States broadly. My dissertation, “The Continuance of an Unholy Traffic: Slave Trading in the Civil War South,” explores the persistence of the domestic slave trade amidst the Civil War and the various impacts slave commerce had upon the unfolding of and lived experience of the conflict. I examine the motivations of Confederates who continued buying and selling enslaved people until the war’s final hours and use their choices to underscore the centrality of slave capitalism to the Rebellion, the strength of Confederate nationalism, and the ways in which the burdens of the war effort fell disproportionately upon the enslaved. I also interrogate the African American experience of the Civil War, focusing on the ways in which continued slave commerce shaped the unfolding of emancipation, the black freedom struggle, and the onset of Reconstruction.
My research interests range widely in the post-Revolutionary United States. I have researched and written about competing memories of the Civil War and its memorialization, as well as Civil War military campaigns, the secession crisis, and post-Reconstruction politics. I also have extensive experience in researching corporate, environmental, and industrial history, all of which contributes to my research and my teaching.