Whitney Stewart

Whitney Stewart

Assistant Professor
Faculty, Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History
JO 5.114
Personal Website
Tags: US History Texas History U.S. South Museum Studies HIST Cultural Heritage

Professional Preparation

PhD - History
Rice University - 2017
MA - History
Rice University - 2013
BA - History
University of St. Thomas - 2009

Research Areas

US South
Texas History
Slavery & Race
Material and Visual Culture
Public History


Co-author, “Digital Public History at Three Presidential Home Sites,” in Age of Revolutions in the Digital Age, eds. Nora Slonimsky, Mark Boonshoft, and Ben Wright (forthcoming with Cornell University Press). - publications
“A ‘Vigorous Crusade’ Against the One-Room Cabin: Black Activists, Usable History, and Anti-Historic Preservation in the Jim Crow Era,” in Race and the Historiography of American Architecture, eds. Charles Davis, Kathryn Holliday, and Joanna Merwood-Salisbury (in progress). - publications
This Is Our Home: Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations (forthcoming, University of North Carolina Press). 2023 - publications
 “White/white and/or the Absence of the Modifier,” Journal of the Early Republic 43, no. 1 (Spring 2023): 101–108.  2023 - publications
“A Protected Place: The Material Culture of Home-Making for Stagville’s Enslaved Residents,” Winterthur Portfolio 54, no. 4 (Winter 2020), 245–70. 2021 - publications
“Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans,” Journal of Social History 51, no. 3 (February 2018), 526–56. 2018 - publications
Co-editor, Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations: An Atlantic World Anthology (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018).  2018 - publications
“The Material Culture of Freedom: African American Women and the Southern Free Black Home after the Civil War,” in Creators and Consumers: Women and Material Culture and Visual Art in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest, The David B. Warren Symposium, vol. 5 (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2016), 46–58. 2016 - publications


The Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast Fellowship - Lamar University [2023]
Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship - University of North Texas Libraries [2023]
AAS-National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellowship - National Endowment for the Humanities & American Antiquarian Society [2019]
Cecilia Steinfeldt Fellowship for Research in the Arts and Material Culture - Texas State Historical Association [2019]
Glenn R. Conrad Prize for the Best Published Article on Louisiana History for 2018 - Louisiana Historical Association [2019]
Barbara Field Kennedy Prize in American History - Rice History Department [2017]
Barra Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Early American Art and Material Culture - The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania [2016]
Smithsonian Predoctoral Research Fellowship - National Museum of African American History and Culture & the National Museum of American History [2015]
Jameson Curatorial Fellowship - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens [2015]
W.M. Keck Foundation Research Fellowship - Huntington Library [2015]


Chair- Membership Committee
Southern Historical Association [2022–Present]
Member- Interpretation, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Committee
Dallas Heritage Village [2019–Present]
Member- Membership Committee
Southern Historical Association [2019–2022]
Phi Alpha Theta, History Honors Society, UTD chapter [2020–Present]
Member- Public History Sub-Committee
Southern Historical Association [2020–Present]

Additional Information

As a history professor at UTD, I am delighted to teach a range of classes, from introductory US & Texas history surveys to graduate-level courses. I think, read, and work as both an academic and public historian, meaning I'm interested not only in scholarly historical practice, but in history that reaches a wider audience. Museums, parks, documentaries, websites: there are so many places where the public interacts with history. I've been lucky to spend time in cities around the nation while researching, writing, and curating. Having grown up in Houston, though, I'm thrilled to call Texas my home.

My forthcoming book, entitled This Is Our Home: Slavery and Struggle Southern Plantations (University of North Carolina Press, 2023), explores how both enslaved and enslaving residents of plantations in the nineteenth-century US South used their built environment and material culture to make home. Plantations were work camps; they were places of forced labor, violence, and repression. Yet the material culture that enslaved people created, used, and discarded reveals that these sites of slavery may have been more. On plantations across the US South, across the early Republic and antebellum eras, enslaved and enslaving residents contested who had the right to make home and how they would do it. Amidst the brutal constraints slavery placed upon enslaved people, their material culture reveals that they nonetheless attempted to realize a semblance of home. This fight would continue long after the end of slavery with segregation, inequitable housing policies, and surveillance of black homes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

I want my students to understand the complexity and contingency of history, while also recognizing the connections of the past with the present. I push my students to never respond with a "yes or no," to never assume there is just one simple answer to a question. As such, my classes combine the broad with the particular, examining structural issues alongside individual voices. Students examine historical articles and monographs with primary sources, like diary entries, clothing, and paintings. Ultimately, after careful observation and analysis, students express their own evaluations of the past. In a world where history is wielded to support a wide variety of political agendas, the skills that students develop will not only help them in their careers, but also in their everyday lives.

I have long loved history, but before there was history there was dance. I attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, where I focused on modern dance along with academics. I was fortunate to perform throughout the United States and Britain before deciding to shelve my pointe and tap shoes for good. This is one of the many reasons I love being in Arts, Humanities, & Technology; working alongside artists always bring me joy and energy.

News Articles

History Professor Explores Nature of ‘Home’ in 19th-Century South
History Professor Explores Nature of ‘Home’ in 19th-Century South According to Dr. Whitney Stewart, there’s a different way to tell the story of how people lived during the antebellum period in the U.S. By looking at the objects found at old plantations, for example, the disparity of life in the South becomes clearer.

"I study how race as an idea, as a construct, becomes reality through the things we create, consume and discard,” said Stewart, an assistant professor of history in the School of Arts and Humanities and an affiliate of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas. “Whether a quilt, a piece of furniture, landscaping or architecture, I’m interested in how we inscribe our own ideas of race into those spaces and objects.”

Stewart is writing a book that explores the racialized nature of “home” in the 19th-century South. In it, she explores plantations in Texas and Louisiana and how African Americans were motivated to create their homes during and after slavery, as well as the ramifications that have come from a racialized understanding of home.

History Students Try To Uncover Untold Stories of 19th-Century House
History Students Try To Uncover Untold Stories of 19th-Century House Students in a public history graduate course at The University of Texas at Dallas are hoping their research will help enhance the narrative of a local house built in the 1840s.

According to Dr. Whitney Stewart, assistant professor of history in the School of Arts and Humanities, the purpose of the spring project was to dig deep into historical sources to find untold stories about the Gano Farmstead at Dallas Heritage Village (DHV) at Old City Park.

“These students had a great opportunity to do practical hands-on public history research that otherwise they would not have been able to do,” she said. “I saw it as a chance for both DHV and my students to gain something.”


Historian/Research Lead/Co-Author, National Park Service Historic Context Survey, HHM & Associates, Inc. (2023-2024)
Historical Consultant, Caruth Homeplace Initiative, Communities Foundation of Texas (2023)
Consultant and Tour Guide, Close Concerns (2022)
Historical Consultant for "British Luxury: The British Revolution in Decorative Arts, 1715–1840" (exhibit cancelled due to pandemic), San Antonio Museum of Art (2020)


Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History, UTD