Robert Michael Morrissey

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Personal profile

Personal profile

Bob Morrissey specializes in the history of early America and the Atlantic world, American frontier and borderlands history, ethnohistory, and environmental history.  His first book tells the story of French colonists and Native peoples of the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The book is entitled, "Empire by Collaboration: Indians, Colonists, and Governments in the Colonial Illinois Country, and it appears in the Early American Studies Series from University of Pennsylvania Press.  His next project is entitled "The Illinois and the Edge Effect: People, Environment, and Power in the Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands."  It is a study of the relationship between people and non-human nature in one of North America's most distinctive ecological and social frontiers from 1200 to 1850.  It is supported by fellowships by the Illinois Center for Advanced Study and from the National Endowment for the Humanities. An article from this project entitled "Climate, Ecology, and History in North America’sTallgrass Prairie Borderlands" is out now in the journal Past & Present. Other new writings are forthcoming in the Cambridge History of the American Revolution, Oxford History of the Midwest, and a volume on early St. Louis co-edited with Peter Kastor and Jay Gitlin from University of Nebraska Press. 

In 2018-2020, Bob will be the Mellon Faculty Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, where he will lead an interdisciplinary team in programming, research, and curriculum development. In 2016-17, Bob was Helen Corley Petit Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. From 2016-2021, he is a Conrad Humanities Scholar in LAS.

Bob also helps to organize the Society of Colonial Wars' Colonial America Lecture Series at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Research Interests

U.S. Colonial
Atlantic World
Environmental History
Native American History


MA, M.Phil, PhD, Yale University
BA Carleton College, Northfield MN

Honors & Awards

Conrad Humanities Scholar, 2016-2021
Helen Corley Petit Scholar, 2016-17
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015-16
Illinois Center for Advanced Study Fellowship, 2015
George and Gladys Queen Excellence in Teaching Award, Department of History, University of Illinois, 2014-2015
Lester J. Cappon Award for Best Article in William and Mary Quarterly for "Kaskaskia Social Network"
IPRH (Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities) Prize for Best Faculty Research, 2012


History 570a: Problems in U.S. History to 1830
History 570b: Global Environmental History
History 170/171: U.S. History to 1877
History 202: American Environmental History
History 370: Colonial America
History 371: The American Revolution
History 200: Natives and Newcomers in Early America

Office Address

309 Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright Street
M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone

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Research Output

Empire by Collaboration: Indians, Colonists, and Governments in Colonial Illinois Country

Morrissey, R. M., Jan 1 2015, University of Pennsylvania Press. 352 p. ( Early American Studies)

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook

  • Climate, Ecology and History in North America's Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands

    Morrissey, R. M., Nov 1 2019, In : Past and Present. 245, 1, p. 39-77 39 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Clarence W. Alvord: The Illinois Historical Survey and the invention of local history

    Morrissey, R. M., Jan 1 2017, The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation. Hoxie, F. E. (ed.). University of Illinois Press, p. 103-109 7 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The Beginning of American Diversity: Colonial Settlement

    Robert Michael Morrissey (Invited speaker)

    Jun 2013

    Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

    Digital History: The Future of the Profession?

    Robert Michael Morrissey (Invited speaker)

    Nov 2015

    Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

    The Illinois and the Edge Effect

    Robert Michael Morrissey (Invited speaker)

    Mar 2016

    Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

    Honors & Recognition