Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Rutgers University
Website URL
vagrancy, homelessness, poverty, crime, punishment, welfare, mobility, migration, paupers, race, gender, nineteenth century, cholera
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

My name is Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan and I’m a public historian and scholar of early American social and legal history. My public history work is deeply influenced by my academic research and writing about poverty, mobility, crime, and punishment in early American history, seeking new ways to bring contentious histories to a wider audience in order to foster awareness, dialogue, and policy change.

My bookVagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic, will be published by New York University Press in January 2019. You can find other examples of my work herehere, and here. Since 2016, I have been the coordinator of the undergraduate Public History Program at Rutgers University, in addition to teaching in the History Department there.

I completed a PhD in US History at the University of Leicester in 2016, and an MA in Modern History from Queens University Belfast in 2012. I’ve also worked as an archivist and research analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives, and with museums, archives, and libraries in the US and the UK curating exhibits, managing archival collections, and creating inclusive public programming. My research and work have been supported by the Library Company of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians, and other similar organizations. I regularly consult on public history projects in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Recent Publications

Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic (New York: New York University Press), forthcoming 2019.

“’Vagrant Negroes:’ The Policing of Labor and Mobility in the Old South,” in Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power, eds. Keri Leigh Merritt and Matthew Hild (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida), forthcoming 2018.

“Vagabonds and Paupers: Race and Illicit Mobility in the Early Republic,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 83, no. 4 (Autumn 2016): 443-469.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United Kingdom, United States
Expertise by Chronology
4, 5
Expertise by Topic
Capitalism, Emancipation, Gender, Law, Migration & Immigration, Public History, Race, Slavery