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Kate Masur

Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2001
Curriculum Vitae

Interests

Geographic Field(s):  American History, Before 1900

Thematic Field(s):  African Diaspora and African American History; Urban History; Gender and Sexuality History; Political and Policy History; Legal and Criminal History

Principal Research Interest(s):  U.S. history, Civil War and Reconstruction, anti-slavery movement, slavery, emancipation, race, politics, and the state

Biography

Kate Masur (Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2001) is an historian of the United States. Examining the intersections of law, politics, and everyday life, her scholarship explores how Americans grappled with questions of race and equality after the abolition of slavery in both the North and South. Masur, a faculty affiliate of the Department of African American Studies, is author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (2010) and numerous articles on emancipation and black politics during and after the Civil War. With Gregory P. Downs (UC-Davis), she recently co-edited The World the Civil War Made (2015), a collection of essays that charts new directions in the study of the post-Civil War Era. They previewed some of their key arguments in "Reconstruction: Retrospect and Prospects," in the Civil War Book Review.

Her most recent project is the republication of a largely forgotten classic in Lincoln studies and African American history, They Knew Lincoln by John E. Washington. First published by E. P. Dutton in 1942, They Knew Lincoln excavates Lincoln’s relationships with African Americans, including members of the White House staff and Lincoln's Haitian-born barber in Springfield, William de Fleurville. It offers a mosaic of stories, including deep research on Elizabeth Keckly’s life and authorship of her 1868 book, Behind the Scenes, and vignettes of Washington’s own childhood in the neighborhood near Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Masur’s introduction to the new edition explores John E. Washington’s life and work, as well as the book’s original reception and significance.

Committed to discussing American history with a broad range of audiences, Masur enjoys leading workshops for teachers and working with arts organizations. She has also worked with the National Park Service (NPS) on several projects related to the era of Reconstruction. She was part of the editorial team that created Reconstruction: The Official National Park Service Handbook, and she and Downs co-authored The Era of Reconstruction, 1861-1900, a National Historic Landmark Theme Study published in July 2017. Downs and Masur wrote about their NPS work in The Atlantic Online and The New York Times, and they co-edited a Reconstruction special issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era that includes a forum on the future of Reconstruction studies and a roundtable conversation on Reconstruction in public history and memory. Masur has separately written for The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic Online on various topics related to the Civil War, emancipation, the film Lincoln, and the history of the District of Columbia.

Masur is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards. In 2014-15 she was an Andrews Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. She spent the year working on a book about police powers, the anti-slavery movement, and the origins of Reconstruction-era constitutional change. She continues to work on that project and has presented portions of it at the National Archives, the American Bar Foundation, Brown University, and other venues.

Professor Masur is also affiliated with the Center for African American History, the Department of African American Studies, and the Program in American Studies.

Publications 

Books

  • Editor with Gregory P. Downs, The World the Civil War Made, University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
  • Editor with René Hayden, Anthony E. Kaye, Steven F. Miller, Susan E. O'Donovan, Leslie S. Rowland, and Stephen A. West, Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Series 3, Volume 2, Land and Labor, 1866-1867. University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
  • An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C., University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Select Articles

  • "Color Was a Bar to the Entrance: African American Activism and the Question of Social Equality in Lincoln’s White House," American Quarterly, 69 (March 2017), 1-22.
  • “The Problem of Equality in the Age of Emancipation,” in David W. Blight and Jim Downs, eds., Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation, University of Georgia Press, 2017.
  • Chair and organizer, "Eric Foner's Reconstruction at Twenty-Five," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 14 (Jan. 2015), 13-27.
  • "Patronage and Protest in Kate Brown’s Washington," Journal of American History, 99 (March 2013), 1047-1071.
  • Participant, "Historians’ Forum: The Emancipation Proclamation," Civil War History, 59 (March 2013), 7-31.
  • "The African American Delegation to Abraham Lincoln: A Reappraisal." Civil War History, 56 (June 2010), 117-144.
  • "A Rare Phenomenon of Philological Vegetation": The Word "Contraband" and the Meanings of Emancipation in the United States, Journal of American History, 93 (March 2007), 1050-1084.

Teaching Interests 

  • Professor Masur regularly teaches undergraduate courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction and Abraham Lincoln, as well as U.S. Women's History. She enjoys working closely with undergraduate students and has supervised several honors theses and worked with numerous Leopold Fellows. Many of her students have won Undergraduate Research Grants (URGs) to conduct independent research. 
  • Masur served as the History Department’s Director of Graduate Studies for four years (2011-14, 2016-17). She also helped apply for and implement a Teagle Foundation grant to promote excellence in graduate student teaching and currently serves on TGS's Advisory Council for Academic Affairs. Her graduate teaching and advising fields include the Civil War and Reconstruction, African American history, legal history, political history, and the history of women and gender. Her current Ph.D. students are working in all those areas.

Awards and Honors 

  • Andrews Fellow, W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute, Harvard University, 2014-2015
  • OAH Distinguished Lecturer, 2013-present
  • Lincoln Prize Honorable Mention for An Example for All the Land, 2011
  • Avery O. Craven Prize Honorable Mention for An Example for All the Land, 2011
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title for An Example for All the Land, 2011
  • John T. Hubbell Prize for best article in the journal Civil War History, 2010
  • ACLS/Ryskamp Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Binkley-Stephenson Award for Best Scholarly Article in the Journal of American History, Organization of American Historians, 2007
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2007-2008
  • Kluge Postdoctoral Fellowship, Library of Congress, 2004-2005
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