Dr. Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch
I am very pleased to be the history department’s second Wyatt fellow and I am grateful to Dr. Wyatt for leaving our department such an extraordinary gift. I travelled with the students last year on the department’s first Wyatt trip to Poland, and it was very rewarding to watch the students connect what they had learned in the classroom to what they were experiencing as they visited Polish historical sites. I am looking forward to repeating that experience with students this year as we travel to Virginia.
I have been interested in the history of the Old South, and in Virginia particularly, since I was a teenager. The summer before I started college, I travelled with my father to Virginia for the first time. I visited Monticello and other historical sites, and I was hooked. I pursued a bachelor’s degree in History at the University at Buffalo, and then went on to earn my master’s degree in History at the University of Maine, where I wrote my master’s thesis on Thomas Jefferson and Virginia Constitution of 1776. I returned to the University at Buffalo, and in 2005 I graduated with a Ph.D. in American History, focusing on the history of antebellum Virginia for my doctoral thesis.
I joined the History Department at UM-Flint in 2006. I teach a range of courses on the history of Colonial America, the American Revolution, Early American politics and culture, southern history, U.S. Women’s history, and Caribbean and Atlantic history. In May 2010, my book Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Organizations and the Transformation of White Male Culture in Antebellum Virginia was published by the University of Georgia Press. Currently, I am working on a second research project that focuses on Mary Willing Byrd, wife of Virginia patriarch, philanderer, gambler, and loyalist William Byrd, III. After her husband’s suicide in 1777, Mary Byrd took charge of caring for her ten children, running Westover plantation, and paying off her husband’s debts. My research on Byrd’s life investigates the complex relationship between gender expectations and political loyalties in Revolutionary America.
Many years have passed since my first trip to Virginia, and although I am much older (and hopefully wiser) my enthusiasm for the history of Virginia and the Old South has not waned. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to engage students in southern history and to travel with them to the many important historical places in Virginia.