Adam Arenson

Department Chairperson of History

Professor, History

I research, write, and teach North American history, from the arrival of humans until today. My work has concentrated on the importance of borders and regional identity in U.S. History; the cultural and political history of slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction; as well as the development of cities.

My newest work considers Black North Americans crossing the U.S.-Canada border during and after the American Civil War, and how their stories change our histories of immigration, Reconstruction, citizenship, the Great Migration, and African Americans generally. I have also done a number of walking tours, to highlight urban history and opportunities for historic preservation and interpretation, from the Slavery in the Bronx to Millard Sheets art and architecture in California and beyond.  

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 social-media posts--can be accessed via

As I research cities and migrations, I aim to reconstruct how residents made sense of their surroundings. I work with students to use geographic information system (GIS) analysis, data mining, database construction, "Big Data" matching, and migration visualizations in partnership with the Columbia University Data Science Institute Data for Good Program.

For my published and forthcoming work, see below. To download my current c.v., click here.


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

Courses Taught

  • HIST 100: Experiencing History
  • HIST 206: United States Through 1876
  • HIST 231: Introduction to African American History
  • HIST 300: Historical Methods
  • HIST 372: History In Public
  • HIST 387: New York City and the American Urban Experience
  • Research
    • United States History, 1776-1917
    • Urban Studies
    • The American West and its Borderlands
    • Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction
    • African American History and the Global African Diaspora
    • Cultural and Intellectual History
    • Immigration and Family History
    • Public History
    • Digital Humanities
    • The Writing of History
  • Professional Experience and Memberships
    • Columbia University Data Science Institute Data for Good Project Director (2019-present)
    • Editorial Board, American Nineteenth Century History (2019-present) 
    • Chair, Humanities Advisory Council, (2014-2017)
    • Telluride Association Board of Directors (2001-2016) 
    • Organization of American Historians Avery O. Craven Award Committee (2012-2013)
    • Western History Association, Dwight L. Smith (ABC-Clio) Award Committee (2016-present)
    • 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
      • Phi Alpha Theta                   
  • Honors, Awards, and Grants
    Honors & Awards:
    • Winner, Brother Casimir Gabriel Costello, FSC, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Manhattan College. (2020)

    • Iwata Distinguished Lecturer, Biola University. (2018)

    • 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)


    • Artz Fellowship, Oberlin College Libraries (2022)
    • New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Labs Team partnership (2017)

    • 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)