Craig Thompson Friend

Professor, Director of Public History

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CHASS Distinguished Graduate Professor and Director of Public History

My scholarship focuses on identity, gender, death, memory, and public consumption of history. I knew I would be a historian when I was in 8th grade--the American bicentennial year--and won the Woodsman of the World award for American History. I started out fascinated by the narrative of early America, and its mythologization in public memory. In the early stages of my professional career as a historian, I tried to figure out where frontier history and its mythologizing intersected in the early American republic. I could not avoid the realization that much of early American memory depended upon a hypermasculine ideal of American manhood (and feminization of American womanhood), and hence my forays into gender history. More recently, I've turned towards forms of commemoration, particularly as they relate to the most intimate of memory-moments related to death and dying, and the most public of memory-moments in the federal government's presentation of a national narrative through the monuments, museums, and commemorative events in the nation's capital. I came to public history as a scholar, working on cultural resource surveys for the National Forest Service and the National Park Service. In so many ways, public history requires work at the intersections of history and memory. Additionally, public history requires attention to the ways in which public audiences consume and understand the past, both as history and as memories. I live in Raleigh with my partner, Rod, and our dog, Topper. 

As Director of Public History

I take very seriously my role as director of the public history program because our students aspire to do what I consider to be critical work in our participatory democracy. We live in a culture that has always struggled to remember its past and find applicability to the present, and today the disjunction between historical lessons and relevance to present problems seems even greater. We need public historians to venture forth and make a difference in society. Civic engagement is central to the public history profession. As academic advisor for all students in public history, as well as supervisor of their internship experiences, I work closely with graduate students to prepare as thoroughly as possible towards the goals of employment and engagement.

As a Professional Historian

I serve as the coordinator for the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and as the editor of H-Death. I also am co-editor with Stacey M Robertson for the Perspectives on Early America series from Pickering & Chatto Publishers. This series offers fresh interpretations of the people, events and influences that shaped America during the Colonial, Revolutionary and Early National periods. This era ahs been reappraised in recent academic thinking, providing new ideas and a shifting perspective on dynamic world events. Titles in the series will focus on aspects of the social, cultural, political and imperial history of the Americans and the Atlantic world. We welcome submissions for book proposals from established scholars and first-time authors alike. To discuss your ideas regarding a monograph, edited collection of essays, or primary source collection in this subject area, please email me, cc'ing the commissioning editor, Janka Romero

As a Graduate Professor

I accept graduate students working on thesis and dissertation topics related to public history as well as the American revolutionary era and the early American republic (1763-1861), the American frontiers, the American South, gender studies, and public memory. I am proud of the work done by all of my students, but I want to particularly acknowledge three award winners:

Loren Michael Mortimer, "Pagents of Sovereignty: 'Merciless Indian Savages' and American Nation-State Formation on the Northern Borderlands, 1774-1775"  (History 2013); winner 2013 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Thesis Award

Rachel Elizabeth Trent, “Seeing the Nation by Numbers: The 1874 Statistical Atlas and the Evolution of a Demographic Imagination” (Public History 2012); winner 2012 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Thesis Award

Jessica Lynn Gillespie, “‘Loved to stayed on like it once was’: Southern Appalachian People’s Responses to Socio-Economic Change—the New Deal, the War on Poverty, and the Rise of Tourism” (History 2010); winner 2010 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Thesis Award and 2011 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Master’s Thesis Award in Humanities and Fine Arts

Graduate Advisees

Recent Work & Publications

  • The Buzzel About Kentuck: Settling the Promised Land. (University Press of Kentucky, 1999). ed. .
  • Southern Manhood: Perspectives on Masculinity in the Old South. (University of Georgia Press, 2004). co. edited with Lorri Glover
  • Along the Maysville Road: The Early American Republic in the Trans-Appalachian West. (University of Tennessee Press, 2005).
  • Southern Masculinity: Perspectives on Manhood in the South since Reconstruction. (University of Georgia Press, 2009). ed. .
  • Family Values in the Old South. (University Press of Florida, 2009). co. edited with Anya Jabour
  • Kentucke’s Frontiers. (Indiana University Press, 2010). WINNER OF 2011 KENTUCKY GOVERNOR'S AWARD
  • Death and the American South. (Cambridge University Press, 2015). co. edited with Lorri Glover
  • “'The Crushing of Southern Manhood’: War, Masculinity, and the Confederate Nation-State, 1861-1865.” in Masculinities and the Nation in the Modern World, 1800-1945 , ed. Simon Wendt and Pablo Dominguez (Palgrave/McMillan 2015)
  • “Mutilated Bodies, Living Spectres: Scalpings and Beheadings in the Early South.” in Death and the American South, ed. Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • “Searching for Kentucky’s Female Frontier: Nonhelema Hokolesqua, Jemima Boone Callaway, & Matilda Lewis Threlkeld.” in Kentucky Women, ed. Tom Appleton and Melissa McEuen (University of Georgia Press, 2015)
  • “Sex, Self, and the Performance of Patriarchal Manhood in the Old South.” in A New History of the Old South: Slavery, Sectionalism, and the Nineteenth-Century’s Modern World, ed. L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers (Oxford University Press, 2011) pp. 246-68
  • “Little Eva’s Last Breath: Childhood Death and Parental Mourning in Our Family, White and Black.” in Family Values in the Old South, ed. Craig Thompson Friend and Anya Jabour (University Press of Florida, 2009) pp. 62-85
  • President, Mordecai Historic Park advisory committee, City of Raleigh, 2007-2008

  • Chief researcher and writer, Cultural Resources survey, 1998-99, Ft. Necessity/National Road NP

  • Coordinator, Many Voices—One Story? Public History Narratives of Native American and African American Histories, 2010

  • Researcher and writer, Cultural Resources Survey, 1991, Cherokee National Forest

  • Chief researcher and writer, Historical By-ways on the Information Highway project, Orlando, 2003-05

  • Coordinator, Andrews Johnson Bicentennial Symposium, Mordecai Historic Park, Raleigh, 2008

  • Consultant, Kentucky History Center Museum, 1995-96

  • Representative, National American Heritage Commission, Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1998-2000

Contact Information

  • Office Location

    368 Withers Hall

  • Phone: 919.513.2227
  • Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Twitter: @professordeath
  • Office Hours

    and Class Schedule

    for Spring 2015


    Mon. 3-5:45--HI791: Research Seminar in Public History


    Wed 3-5:45--HI598: Historical Writing


    Mon/Wed 2-3--office hours or by appointment


Current Semester

HI 598-002
W   300-545PM
WI 246

HI 791-001
M   300-545PM
WI 243

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350 Withers Hall, Campus Box 8108, Raleigh, NC 27695-8108
Phone: 919.515.2483 Fax: 919.515.3886

College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History