Publication Date

February 5, 2019

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


African American

Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie is a professor of history at Howard University. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, and has been a member since 2015.


Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie

Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie

Alma maters: BA Honors, Kingston University, UK, 1984; PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1993

Fields of interest: slavery, emancipation, and comparative history

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today? I once worked for a living, and then decided to become an academic! My British Fulbright to a US university made me realize that I could earn a decent living doing something I really loved to do.

What do you like the most about where you live and work? I like working at Howard because of its students, its mission, its access to archives, and its location in an international city.

What projects are you currently working on? I am in the production stages of a book Rebellious Passage: The CreoleRevolt and America’s Coastal Slave Trade to be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2019.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how? Yes, they have become more global and multi-disciplinary.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research? Every book has its gems. That is part of the detective hunt. Also, the occasional obstructionism from archivists once they learn your research interests are in slavery.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members? Nothing in particular, but I often stumble across some interesting publications in the review pages of the AHR.

If that fails, then I could always recommend my own stellar publications!

What do you value most about the history discipline? Its collegiality.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you? I find it useful being director of graduate studies. I like the travel nationally to reconnect with colleagues/friends from afar. It is wonderful to view the generational changes at these meetings and in the journal.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share? Chairing a panel of presentations by my Howard PhD students. Interviewing for a post as a freshly minted PhD and trying to contain my laughter as the committee chairman’s toupee slowly descended toward his nose.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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Matthew Keough
Matthew Keough

American Historical Association