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 book will appear in the  Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series from University of Washington Press. Entitled "The Edge in the Center: A New History of Indigenous 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 the deep past through the colonial period. Research for the book was 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, now out from University of Nebraska Press.

In 2018-2020, Bob was Mellon Faculty Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, where he led an interdisciplinary team in programming, research, and curriculum development. Click here for their group study, The Flatland Project, including Bob's essay "The Drains out of Town." In 2016-17, Bob was Helen Corley Petit Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. From 2016-2021, he was a Conrad Humanities Scholar in LAS.

Bob also helped to create the Colonial American History Lecture Series at the Newberry Library in Chicago, which is now in its sixth year.

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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