Stacey M. Robertson
I love people. I am endlessly curious about how we make choices, experience ups and downs, and interact with one another. This means that I enjoy throwing large parties but also burying myself in dusty archives reading old letters and diaries. I am captivated by dreamers — those passionate, bold, audacious people who expect to change the world. As an historian this led me to nineteenth-century antislavery, a movement overflowing with visionaries.
My first book was a biography of the brawny New Hampshire abolitionist Parker Pillsbury — a quirky ex-minister who castigated the church for its failure to take a strong stand against slavery. This book traces his life from a childhood in the rough hills of New England through a fifty-year career as an outspoken reformer who never tired of speaking against inequality. More recently I published Betsy Mix Cowles: Champion of Equality, a biography of a fascinating woman who devoted her life to social justice through education, women’s rights, and abolition. In 2010, I published Hearts Beating for Liberty, a book that explores women’s remarkable and skillful participation in the Midwestern antislavery movement. I introduce readers to extraordinary individuals like Mary Brown Davis who overcame her slaveholding background to find a place for herself in the antislavery Liberty Party; Lizzie Jones, who edited a fiery antislavery newspaper with her husband; and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, who used her poetry to promote a boycott of slave-made goods like sugar and cotton. I also co-wrote another book in 2010 with the talented historian Carol Lasser. Entitled Antebellum Women: Private, Public, Partisan, this book follows American women’s path from the home to the platform in the period between the Revolutionary and Civil wars and includes an inspiring collection of documents written by women at the time.
These books have been well received and as a result I was fortunate to be named the Oglesby Professor of American Heritage in 2009 and awarded the Samuel Rothberg Professional Excellence Award in 2011.
When I am not hidden away in a library I am happily standing in front of an audience. After receiving my Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1994, I began teaching at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where for nearly two decades I have been energized by the opportunity to share my love of history with eager and talented students. My passion for teaching has resulted in several awards including the Charles M. Putnam Award for Excellence in Teaching.
My desire to share the stories and lessons of my historical research and writing has led to more than one hundred public lectures. I have spoken to colleges and universities, professional organizations, teachers, women’s associations, churches, museums, institutes, and many other types of groups in both national and international locations. My audiences point to my enthusiasm and story-telling ability in giving me high ratings as a speaker. I am often invited to return.
In addition to my work as an historian and public speaker, I co-edit of a book series with Craig Thompson Friend at Pickering & Chatto entitled Perspectives on Early America.
I am fortunate to be the co-director of Historians Against Slavery. There are millions of people in the world today who are forced to labor against their will for the profit of others. My participation in this organization allows me to unite my scholarship with my concern for making the world a better place.