Adam Arenson

Assoc.Prof./Dir.Urban Studies


I research, write, and teach the history and memory of North America and the global nineteenth century. My work has concentrated on the cultural and political history of slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, as well as the development of cities--from California to the Yukon Territory, from the province of Ontario to St. Louis to El Paso.

Writing accessible history, and engaging a wide audience, is important to me. I have written about my scholarship for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I have been a contributor to Civil War Memory and the Making History Podcast. My latest popular publications--whether op-eds, blog posts, or tweets--can be accessed via

In my urban-studies research and teaching, I aim to reconstruct how residents made sense of their surroundings. I use digital-history methods to supplement the written record with material-culture findings and geographic information system (GIS) analysis, and I am exploring the opportunities offered by data mining, database construction, and visualization, in collaboration with the open-source spatiotemporal data foundation

I am currently researching two new research projects: After the Underground Railroad considers the return of African Americans from Canada during and after the Civil War, while Historic Art at Home Savings investigates the history and family-minded art and architecture commissioned from the Millard Sheets Studio for Howard Ahmanson's Home Savings and Loan, and what this artwork means to its communities to this day. For my published work, see below. 



  • PHD, Yale University
  • MPHIL, Yale University
  • MA, Yale University
  • AB, Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges

Courses Taught

  • Research
    • United States History, 1776-1917
    • Urban Studies
    • The American West and its Borderlands
    • Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction
    • Cultural and Intellectual History
    • Digital Humanities
    • The Writing of History
  • Professional Experience and Memberships
    • Chair, Humanities Advisory Council, (2014-present)
    • Telluride Association Board of Directors (2001-present) 
    • Organization of American Historians Avery O. Craven Award Committee (2012-2013)
    • Assistant Professor of History, The University of Texas at El Paso (2009-2014)
    • See full c.v. for more information. 

    Professional Memberships

    • American Historical Association
    • Organization of American Historians
    • Urban History Association
    • Western History Association
    • Society of Civil War Historians
    • St. Louis Mercantile Library
    • State Historical Society of Missouri
    • Southern Historical Association
    • Phi Alpha Theta                   
    • Association for Canadian Studies in the United States
  • Honors, Awards, and Grants
    • Fulbright Specialist Roster (2013-2017)
    • College of Liberal Arts Nominee, University of Texas Regents Outstanding Teaching Award (2013)
    • Outstanding Performance Award, UTEP Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (2013)
    • Finalist, Hiett Prize in the Humanities (2012)
    • Invited Participant, Project CONNECT Mentoring Seminar for new Canadian Studies scholars (2011)
    • Lewis E. Atherton Dissertation Prize, State Historical Society of Missouri, for the best dissertation in Missouri history or biography in the previous year (2009)
    • Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard (2000)


    • Howard Ahmanson Fellowship, Ahmanson Foundation (2014-2015)
    • American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship (2014-2015; unable to accept this year).
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2013-2014)
    • UTEP Arts and Humanities Career Enhancement Grant (2012-2014)
    • Humanities Texas Major Media Grant (2013-2014)
    • Haynes Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library (2012)
    • Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, Public Programming Award for Digital Mapping of El Paso (2011-2012)
    • UTEP Student Employment Program for research assistance (2010-2014)
    • Jonathan Heritage Foundation Fellowship, Autry National Center (2011)
    • UTEP University Research Institute competition (2010-2011)
    • Tesoro-Kinney Fellow, Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders (2007-2008)
    • William E. Foley Research Fellowship, Missouri State Archives (2007)
    • Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition Graduate Research Fellowship (2007)
    • Richard S. Brownlee Fund Grant, State Historical Society of Missouri (2006-2007)
    • St. Louis Mercantile Library Research Fellowship (2006)
    • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship for the Humanities (2002-2006)