Derek Kane O'Leary

PhD Candidate (2020)

North America

I write and teach about the early United States and Atlantic History. My dissertation deals with the construction of historical narratives, archives, and Romantic historiography in the early US, phenomena enmeshed in a broad hemispheric and Atlantic context. I'm an enthusiastic editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog, where I also write about my research. This year, I am the department's American Historical Association Career Diversity Fellow. I completed a Master's in International Security and Maritime History at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and my BA at Amherst College in Political Science and French. 

My research has been supported by the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Omohundro Institute, Harvard's Houghton Library, the American Association of Netherlandic Studies, the Orde van den Prince, the UC Berkeley Center for British Studies, UC Berkeley's Institute of European Studies, Irish Studies Program, the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix, Foreign Language and Areas Studies program.

If you're curious, I'm happy to share syllabi for my recent UC Berkeley courses: "Contesting the American Past" (Fall 2017) and "American Counter-Histories" (Fall 2019).


November 2019 Society for US Intellectual History, "Repatriating the American Past"

October 2019 American Philosophical Society, "The Power of Maps and the Politics of Borders" conference, "Archival Lines and Negotiating the Northeast Boundary"

June 2019 Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations annual conference, "Jacksonian Foreign Policy, Liberal Movements Abroad, and the 'Calm of Despotism'"

December 2018 European Early American Studies Association biannual conference, "America and Poland in the Panorama of Atlantic Revolution," co-authored with Agnieszka Smelkowska

October 2019 Western Literature Association annual conference, "Summoning American Antiquity"

June 2018 International Conference on Netherland Studies presentation, "Contesting the Dutch Archive"

April 2018 UC Berkeley Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Early US, presentation: "Archaeology of Early US Archives"

January 2018 UC Berkeley Graduate Symposium, "Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Hemispheric Imaginaries"

January 2018 Massachusetts Historical Society talk, "Excavating the Ancient Indian Mound, Building the Archive"

October 2017 CU Boulder, Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference, presentation: "Re-visiting the Western Indian Mounds and the Emergence of the American Social Sciences"

May 2017 Spanish National Research Council, Institute of History, International Conference on "Representations of External Threats in History", presentation: "Jared Sparks and the American Archive"

October 2015 McNeil Center (UPenn) graduate conference, "The Early US Consular Service"

March 2014 American Association for Baltic and Scandinavian Studies (Yale), Arctic Ecologies panel, "Svalbard, human coast?"


2020 "Archives in Nineteenth-Century European and North America," co-authored with Elisa Garritzen, Libraries, Archives, Museums: Western Cultural Heritage Institutions Through Ages (forthcoming, Rowman and Littlefield)

2020 "Foreign Service Officer," Quam-Wickham and Elliott, editors, A Day in the Life of an American Worker: 200 Trades and Occupations Through American History (forthcoming, ABC-Clio)

2020 "Maine, Nation, and World in the 19th-century Archive,” Maine History (accepted with revisions)

2019 "New Netherland, Archival Deficiency, and Contesting New York History in the Antebellum U.S.," Dutch Crossing (August 2019)

2019 "Romance and the Work of History in Catherine Maria Sedgwicks's The Linwoods," Harvard Library Bulletin (under review)

2019 "Gender and the Archival Threshold in the Early U.S. Historical Society," forthcoming The New Americanist special edition on archives

2019 "William Buell Sprague and the Trouble with Antiquarianism in the Early U.S.," Archival History News

2019 "Accessing Archives in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World," Houghton Library Blog

2018 "Romantic Science and Arctic Imaginaries," in MASKS, vol. 2 (Harvard Graduate School of Design)

2018 "Public and National Imagination of the Arctic," in Eurasia's Maritime Rise and Global Security (Palgrave)

2018 "Jared Sparks, American Archive" in Representations of External Threats in History (Brill)

2018 “The Arctic Other in American Cultural and Intellectual History,” The Arctic Institute

2018 “Norse Fantasies and American Foundings,” Journal of the History of Ideas Blog (October 2018)

2018 "Repatriating the American Archive in the Antebellum U.S.," Archival History News

2018 "Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, New England, and Hemipheric Visions," Journal of the History of Ideas Blog

2018 "Life and Likeness at the Portland Museum of Art" (interview with curator Diana Greenwold), JHI Blog

2017 "Excavating the Western Indian Mounds," Journal of the History of Ideas Blog

2017 "On the Pinkster King and the King of the Kongo" (interview with Professor Jeroen Dewulf) JHI Blog

2017 "Hugh Swinton Legare and the Transatlantic Letters of US Diplomacy," Journal of the History of Ideas Blog

2017 "Jared Sparks' American Archive," Journal of the History of Ideas Blog

2014 "Commercial Arctic shipping through the Northeast Passage," Polar Geography, 37: 4, co-author