Jonathan Daniel Wells

University of Michigan

Dean, Residential College

Professor of History

Departments of Afroamerican and African Studies, History, and
Communication Studies (affiliated)



University of Michigan, Ph.D., American History, 1998


Publications and Related Activities

  • Books:
    • (editor) The Routledge History of Nineteenth-Century America (2017)
    • (author) Women Writers and Journalists in the Nineteenth-Century South Cambridge University Press (2011) [Honorable Mention, Spruill Prize, Southern Association of Women Historians, 2012]
    • (author) A House Divided: The Civil War and Nineteenth-Century America Routledge (2011)
      second edition published ( 2017)
    • (co-editor) The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century LSU Press (2011)
    • (co-editor) Entering the Fray: Gender, Culture, and Politics in the New South University of Missouri Press (2010)
    • (editor) Slavery and the New World Pickering & Chatto Publishers, London (2009)
    • (editor) The Southern Literary Messenger, University of South Carolina Press (2007)
    • (author) The Origins of the Southern Middle Class, 1800-1861, University of North Carolina Press (2004)
    • (co-editor) The Literary and Historical Index to American Magazines, Praeger (2004)
  • Books (in progress):
    • (author) The New York Kidnapping Club: Slavery and Freedom in America’s Metropolis (under contract with Nation Books)
    • (author) Blind no More: Slavery, the North, and the Coming of the Civil War (University of Georgia Press, 2018)
  • Selected Essays, Articles, and Reviews 
    • “The Future of Southern Intellectual History,” Georgia Historical Quarterly (Winter 2018)
    • “Charles Dickens, the American South, and the Transatlantic Debate over Slavery,” Slavery & Abolition 35 (May 2015)
    • “Writers, Editors, and Intellectual Exchange between the Antebellum North and South,” Alabama Review 67 (January 2014)
    • “Professionalization and the Southern Middle Class,” essay/chapter in, Louis M. Kyriakoudes, ed., The Transformation of Southern Society
      (University of Missouri Press, 2011)
    • “Class and Slavery,” 35-page essay in Mark M. Smith, ed., The Oxford Handbook on Slavery (Oxford University Press, 2010)
    • “A Voice in the Nation: Women and Journalism in the Antebellum South,” American Nineteenth-Century History (June 2008)
    • “The Southern Middle Class,” invitation-only, state-of-the-field essay for the 75th anniversary issue of the Journal of Southern History (August 2009)
    • “The Transformation of John Pendleton Kennedy: Maryland, the Republican Party, and the Civil War,” Maryland Historical Magazine, 95 (Fall 2000): 290-307.
  • Book reviews published:
    • Journal of American History
    • Journal of Southern History
    • Georgia Historical Quarterly
    • American Nineteenth-Century History
    • Southern Spaces
    • New Left History
    • Journal of the Civil War Era
    • North Carolina Historical Review
    • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
    • American Historical Review
    • Civil War History
  • Book manuscripts reviewed
    • Cambridge University Press
    • LSU Press
    • University of Kentucky Press
    • University of Illinois Press
    • University of Georgia Press
    • University of South Carolina Press
  • Article manuscripts reviewed
    • The Journal of the Early Republic
    • Civil War History
    • Journal of Southern History
    • The Journal of the Civil War Era

Grants, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Julia Spruill Book Prize, Honorable Mention, Southern Association for Women Historians 2012, for Women Writers and Journalists
  • American Antiquarian Society, Visiting Scholar, 2011
  • The Virginia Historical Society, Research Grant. 2008-2009
  • Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society 2008
  • Gilder Lehrman Institute Fellowship 2003
  • Albert J. Beveridge Research Grant, American Historical Association
  • Archie K. Davis Research Grant, North Caroliniana Society

Selected Conferences and Invited Lectures


  • “African Americans and Race in Southern Newspapers under Union Occupation during the Civil War,” Southern Historical Association, Birmingham, AL, 2018
  • “African American Periodicals in Civil War New Orleans,” CLAW conference on “Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World,” Charleston, SC, March 2018
  • “Abolition, Kidnapping, and the Sectional Crisis in America,” College d’etudes mondiales, Paris, July 2017
  • 2017 Lamar Lectures “Blind no More: Slavery and the Antebellum North,” Mercer University
  • “Blind No More: Self-Emancipation, Northern Politics, and the Sectional Crisis,” University of Hawaii, February 2015
  • “The Literary Culture of the Nineteenth-Century South,” Southern Intellectual History Circle, South Carolina, February 2015
  • “The Arc of Injustice: Class and Race in the Nineteenth-Century South,” Organization of American Historians, St. Louis, April 2015.
  • “Charles Dickens, Race, and the American South,” Southern Intellectual History Circle, 2013
  • “Class and the Coming of the Civil War,” British American NineteenthCentury Association,” 2013
  • Commentator, “Edward Pessen’s Riches, Class, and Power: A Retrospective,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2013
  • Chair, “Abolition and the Civil War,” Pennsylvania Historical Association Meeting, 2013
  • Commentator, “Entrepreneurial and Business Networks Between South and North,” Southern Historical Association, 2012
  • Commentator, “Compromise and Crisis in the Politics of the 1850s,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2012
  • Commentator, “Sectional Identity in the Civil War,” Society of Civil War Historians, 2012
  • Commentator, “The American Civil War in Global Perspective,” Business History Conference, 2012
  • “’Our Dearest Rights and Liberties:’ The Fugitive Slave Law and the Coming of the Civil War,” SHEAR, 2011
  • Commentator, “Race and Immigration in the New South,” After Slavery Conference, 2010
  • Chair and Commentator, “Gender and Sectional Identity,” Southern Association for Women Historians, 2009
  • “Gender and Journalism in the Nineteenth-Century South,” Symposium of the 19th-century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression, 2008
  • “Reconstructing the Southern Middle Class: Commercial and Professional Southerners after the Civil War,” American Historical Association, 2007
  • Chair, “The Politics of Domestic Spaces: Gender, Class, and Race in the 19th-century South,” Southern Association for Women Historians, 2006
  • “The Southern Middle Class in the Nineteenth Century,” invited lecture, St. George Tucker Society, 2006
  • “The Transformation of the South, 1800-1865,” Southern Historical Association, 2005
  • Commentator, “Women and Class in the Old South,” Southern Association of Women Historians Meeting, Richmond, VA, 2000
  • “The Cultural Origins of the Southern Middle Class,” invited lecture, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 1998
  • “Reason and Passion: The Intellectual Culture of the Old South,” Southern Historical Association Conference, 1997
  • “The Belle as Breadwinner: Women Editors in the Old South” Southern Association of Women Historians Meeting, 1997
  • “Rethinking Gender in the Old South: Women and Southern Literary Magazines,” SHEAR, 1996

Professional Service

  • President, The Southern Industrialization Project
  • Program Chair, Southern Industrialization Project Annual Meeting, 2011
  • editor, Journal of the Early Republic, 2012-14
  • Co-editor, Book Review Section, Journal of the Early Republic, 2010-2011
  • Avery O. Craven Award Committee, Organization of American Historians, 2014-5
  • Board of Editors, Southern Historian, 2013-
  • Prize Committee, Bennett H. Wall Prize, SHA, 2013-4
  • Best Article Prize Committee, SAWH, 2009
  • Founder and Director, Center for the Study of the New South, UNC Charlotte

Academic Appointments:

  • University of Michigan, Professor, 2014-
  • Temple University, Professor, 2012-2014
  • Temple University, Associate Professor, 2009-2012
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Associate
    Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of
    the New South, 2007-2009
  • Johnson & Wales University, 2004-2007, Associate Professor

Teaching Experience and Awards:

  • Teaching Excellence Awards in 2000, 2001, 2002
  • American History 1600-1865 and American History 1865-present
  • World Civilization I and II
  • Antebellum Culture and History
  • American History through Fiction
  • Civil War through Film and Literature
  • African American Women Novelists in Southern History
  • African Americans and Abolitionism in the 19th century
  • The Novel in American History
  • The Old South
  • The American Civil War
  • North Carolina History
  • Jacksonian America
  • Radicals and Dissenters in the South
  • Race and the Law in the New South
  • US History Colloquium (graduate level)
  • US History Seminar (graduate level)
  • Social and Cultural History of Nineteenth-Century America (graduate level)

University Administrative Experience

  • University of Michigan, Director of the Residential College, 2014-
  • Temple University, History Department Chair, 2011-2014