Current Students

Michelle Everidge Anderson emailmanderson
A.B., Princeton University, Art History (2004)
M.A., Parsons School of Design/Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, History of Decorative Arts and Design (2006)
Research Interests:
Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American social and cultural history; history of sexuality and the body; material culture and design history; race and ethnicity; consumer culture.


Alyce Graham-Stiles emailgraham
B.A., English Literature, Calvin College (2004)
M.A., History, Virginia Commonwealth University (2010)
Research Interests:
The early republic; theological doctrine; Masonic regalia; visible secrecy; print culture of the wondrous, fantastic, and eccentric; satirical taxidermy; and the other goods too tedious to mention…


Brenton Grom e-mailgrom
B.M., Oberlin College, Music History (2009)
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, Musicology (ABD)



Jamie Kuhns emailkuhns
B.S., History, Radford University (1998)
M.A., History, James Madison University (2001)
Currently A.B.D. at University of Delaware
Research Interests:
Material Culture, Medical History, African American Studies, Southern History, and public history.
Dissertation Title:
“Asylum for Jim Crow: African American Mental Hospitals in the South Atlantic United States, 1865-1965”
Dissertation Abstract:
Before the Civil War, supporters of the pro-slavery argument assumed that with emancipation, the black mind would slip into mental depravity. In the years that followed Lincoln’s decree to free American slaves, Southerners believed that their earlier ideal threats of insanity had come into fruition. Because of the developing prevalence of mental illness among African-Americans, the issue of treating this sick population could no longer be ignored. For most states – in both the North and the South – governments decided to segregate their facilities, either by creating new wards, wings, or buildings to accommodate black patients. Yet four states in the South Atlantic region, including Virginia (1870), North Carolina (1880), Maryland (1913), and West Virginia (1926), created an entirely new type of institution – the “colored” insane asylum – to provide the most practical and efficient treatment for this special population. By the time of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, the plan to separate but equally facilitate black lunatics had been in the works for fifty years in Virginia, having been initially developed in 1846 when the majority of African Americans were still enslaved by the peculiar institution. The model established at Virginia’s Central Lunatic Asylum in 1870 was replicated in North Carolina during Reconstruction and in Maryland during the Progressive Era: placement of the hospital in a community with a high black population and near an urban setting, construction of buildings that were quickly over capacitated with patients suffering from insanity as well as epilepsy, tuberculosis, feeblemindedness, senility and intermixed with children and criminals deemed mentally unfit, and ill-equipped to achieve their therapeutic mission because of inadequate funding and staffing. Although these facilities were opened exclusively for a black clientele, they all employed white staff members for the higher professional positions and left all menial jobs for African-Americans. Racism also pervaded the field of psychiatry. Truly exceptional were operations at Lakin State Hospital, where every position ranging from Superintendent to attendants was held by African American employees from the day it opened. Ironically, when lawsuits in North Carolina and Maryland questioned the segregated policies in the state mental health care system (both focused on care of children) following World War II, Lakin faced a case of reverse discrimination when local white residents in Mason County argued the black staff at this hospital were not properly caring for their wards. By 1965, these four institutions integrated. Today, only Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia remains open, while the State Hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina became a smaller private psychiatric hospital, and both Crownsville in Maryland and Lakin in West Virginia closed permanently in recent years. As these hospitals fade into obscurity, it is important to unravel their origins, their existence, their mission, before they are nothing more than a distant memory. Overshadowed by studies on public schools and general hospitals, every aspect of these mental institutions, ranging from housing to medical treatment, provides yet another means of understanding how the concept of “separate but equal” largely failed. The goal of this dissertation will be to find a permanent place for the black mental asylum in the historical record.


Anna Lacy email
B.A., History, Stockton College (2014.)




Erica Lome e-mailErica Lome
Bard Graduate Center, M.A. (2015)
Bard College, B.A. (2011)
Research Interests:
American visual and material culture; American cultural history; craftsmanship and design; historical memory; immigration and ethnicity.

Please visit my online portfolio at


Lisa Minardi emailminardi
B.A., Ursinus College, History and Museum Studies (2004)
M.A., University of Delaware, Early American Culture (2006)
Research Interests:
Early American history, Early Republic, Atlantic world, immigration history, material culture, public history, historical archaeology, historic preservation, Pennsylvania German art and architecture.


Tyler Putman emailPutman
B.A., Heidelberg College, Anthropology (2009)
M.A., University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum, American Material Culture (2011)
Research Interests:
Early American social history, material culture, historical archaeology, and maritime history.