J.T. Jamieson

PhD Candidate

North America

I am broadly interested in cultural histories of the early and nineteenth-century United States.

My dissertation, “A Mere Change of Location: Migration and Reform in America, 1787-1857,” argues that nineteenth-century American social and moral reformers sought to exercise a controlling influence over mass migrations. It shows that reformers saw the migration of European immigrants, enslaved and free Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, and white western settlers as both a tool to solve major social problems and a social problem in and of itself that necessitated organized, benevolent intervention. I detail how reformers created philanthropic organizations, sermonized to their congregations, and lobbied the public and government in order to encourage, assist, or curtail the mobilities of diverse populations. Because reformers and their organizations actively intervened in the relocation and migration of others, I show that philanthropy and benevolence became critical instruments for middle-class Americans to shape their own demographics and impose strict racial, socio-economic, and religious order on local and national communities. American reformers believed in the transformative moral power of transplantation — both that individuals could be transformed by a change of location and that various migratory flows could affect social progress. I illustrate how and why reformers across disparate social movements fought to direct, regulate, promote, or impede human movement in order to craft what they envisioned as a more perfect world.

Whenever possible, I also enjoy nurturing interests in the histories of print, reading and writing, landscape, photography, and the supernatural.


BA, Sarah Lawrence College, 2013

MA, UC Berkeley, 2016


"Home Work: Religious Nationalism and the American Home Missionary Society," Early American Studies (forthcoming, 2023)

Select Presentations

"Theory Mongers and Mock Philanthropy," Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic, 2021

"The Stranger and the Pilgrim: Benevolence and Immigration," Fellows' Colloquium, Library Company of Philadelphia & Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2020

"First to the Emigrants: Organizing Migration in Antebellum America," Western History Association, 2020

"'Books As Well As Men Are Fallible': Facts, Credibility, and Western Boosterism in the Early Nineteenth Century," Western Literature Association, 2018

"To a Stranger Home: White Women, Western Spaces, and Cultures of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century America," History Graduate Association Symposium, UC Berkeley, 2015