Department of History

Alexandra Finley

Originally from southeastern Ohio, I received my B.A. in history from the Ohio State University and my M.A. and PhD in history from the College of William and Mary.

My early research interests in multiracial families in early America led me to study Silas Omohundro, an antebellum slave trader, who had children with a woman he enslaved, Corinna Hinton. After analyzing Omohundro’s account book, I was struck by the ways in which the slave trader relied on women’s labor, both free and coerced, in his business. This led me to my current research interest in the role of women’s domestic, sexual, and reproductive labor in economic development. My manuscript centers the labor of enslaved women in the domestic slave trade, using four case studies to consider the ways in which traditionally feminine work, including sewing, cooking, domestic management, and boarding – facilitated the expansion of the nineteenth-century “cotton kingdom” into the lower south. The dissertation upon which my current project is based won the Organization of American Historians’ Learner-Scott Prize for the best dissertation in Women’s History in 2017 and led to the publication of my article “’Cash to Corinna’: Domestic Labor and Sexual Economy in the ‘Fancy Trade’” in the  Journal of American History in September 2017.

My teaching interests include African American history, women’s history, gender history, history of sexuality, southern history, the history of capitalism, and labor history. In the upcoming academic year, I will be teaching African American History to 1865, Gender and Sexuality to 1865, and the South to 1880.