Joanne Freeman named the Class of 1954 Professor of American History

Joanne Freeman
Joanne Freeman

Joanne B. Freeman, recently appointed as the Class of 1954 Professor of American History, is a leading historian of the politics and political culture of the Revolutionary era and early national periods of American history.

Freeman’s most recent book, “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War,” explores physical violence in the U.S. Congress between 1830 and the Civil War. It was a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and for the Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize; was named a “best book” by National Public Radio, Smithsonian, and Mother Jones Magazine; and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. Her previous volume, “Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic,” won the Best Book award from the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. She also co-edited, with Johann Neem, “Jeffersonian Republicans in Power, 1800-1824.” In addition, Freeman edited “The Essential Hamilton” and “Alexander Hamilton: Writings,” which Atlantic Monthly named one of the best books of 2001. She has conducted research on the life and work of Hamilton for much of her professional career.

A graduate of Pomona College, Freeman earned her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. She was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, was named a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Society of American Historians in 2010, and a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 2005. She serves on numerous boards of trustees or advisory boards, including the Library of America, the National Council for History Education, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, the Alturas Institute, and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. She is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and was rated one of the nation’s “Top Young Historians” in 2005.

A frequent contributor in the realm of public history, Freeman has worked in many capacities, including acting as a historical advisor for museum curators, documentary filmmakers, and the National Park Service, which she assisted in reinterpreting the Alexander Hamilton Grange National Memorial in New York City. She is a co-host of the popular American history podcast “BackStory.” Her work informed the writing of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” and she was the chief historical advisor for a large-scale exhibit in Chicago on the history behind the musical. Freeman has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and Time Magazine, among others, and has appeared in numerous documentaries on PBS and the History Channel; she frequently offers commentary on MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, and the BBC.

Freeman lectures widely in the United States and around the world on early American politics and culture, political violence, and the life and times of Alexander Hamilton. She recently lectured about Congress to the congressional community in the Capitol itself. She has worked extensively with high school history teachers and students in workshops, lectures, and symposia around the nation.

Freeman’s teaching at Yale was recognized by the William Clyde DeVane Teaching Award and the Sidonie Miskimim Clauss ’75 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.


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