Graduate Student Bios

Whitney Fields is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Rutgers University- New Brunswick specializing in African American History. Whitney’s dissertation is a history of the incarceration and labors of African Americans in the early nineteenth century urban North. Their dissertation reanimates the history of early America and foregrounds African Americans as subjects within the nation’s first prisons and penitentiaries. The project analyzes how northern city officials and reformers reorganized the legal and penal system to recapture the labors of the formerly enslaved, and examines how African Americans figured into nineteenth century discourse on abolition, prison reform, and criminalization. The dissertation chronicles how confinement and incarceration remained central methods to contain the possibilities of Black freedom and attends to the battles African Americans waged when they contested the demands of legislators, employers, and prison administrators throughout the nineteenth century. Whitney received a B.A. in History and American Studies from the College of William and Mary in 2015.