Stern, Ph.D.

Contact Information
Voice: 657-278-3385
Dept: 657-278-3474

Jessica Yirush Stern, Ph.D.

Professor of History


Jessica grew up in Northern California. She received her BA from Reed College, in Portland, OR and her MA and PhD for The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Since her days as an undergraduate she has been interested in anthropology, and her first book, The Lives in Objects, applies anthropological theories of economic and gift exchange to the colonial southeast to better understand trade between British colonists and Southeastern Indians (primarily Cherokee and Creek groups).

In her future work, Jessica will continue to examine the interactions between Native Americans and Euro-Americans. She is writing an intellectual biography of Roger Williams, best known for founding the colony of Rhode Island and for being an early proponent of religious toleration.  Williams, often considered a voice in the wilderness, was, in fact, deeply involved in a range of early modern debates, which Jessica is able to piece together by translating his shorthand notes. Jessica will analyze how his experiences in the English colonies, and particularly his interactions with New England Native groups, influenced his religious, political, ethnographic, historical, economic, and scientific beliefs. She is also pursuing a project that would allow her to work with individuals in various disciplines to determine the long-term impact of the boarding school system on Native American individuals and communities.


2001, Bachelor of Arts, History, Reed College

2004, Master of Arts, History, The Johns Hopkins University

2007, Ph.D in History, The Johns Hopkins University

Research Areas

Native American History, Early American History, British Atlantic History, Economic History, Cultural History, History of Science

Courses Regularly Taught

  HIST 170A: US to 1877
  HIST 386A: American Social History, 1760-1860
  HIST 410: Atlantic World
  HIST 471A: Colonial History
  HIST 471B: American Revolution
  HIST 477B: Native American History
  HIST 489T: Senior Seminar in Historiography and Theory (Topics: Indigenous      Peoples of the Americas; American Revolution)
  HIST 490T: Senior Research Seminar (Topics: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas;     American Revolution)
  HIST 571T: Directed Readings in American History
  HIST 572T: Research Seminar in American History

Scholarly Work


The Lives in Objects: Native Americans, British Colonists, and Cultures of Labor and Exchange in the Southeast (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017)

Articles and Essays

“The Economic Philosophies of Indian Trade Regulation Policy in Early South Carolina,” in Bradford Wood and Michelle LeMaster eds. Crisis and Conflict in the Carolinas (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2014).

“Native American Taste: Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast,” Native South 5 (2012): 1-37.

 “A Key into The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: Roger Williams, the Pequot War, and the Origins of Toleration in America,” Early American Studies 9.3 (September, 2011): 576-616.

Grants & Special Projects

Molina Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 2017

Reacting Endeavour Challenge Grant, Reacting to the Past Consortium and the Endeavor Foundation, 2017