Christy Clark-Pujara

Credentials: Professor

Position title: Department Chair


4131 Helen C. White Hall

Ph.D. 2009, University of Iowa, Iowa City
M.A. 2003, University of Iowa, Iowa City
B.A. 2001, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul MN


Christy Clark-Pujara is a historian of colonial North America and the early American Republic. Her research focuses on the experiences of Black people in French and British North America in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. She is particularly interested in retrieving the hidden and unexplored histories of African Americans in areas that historians have not sufficiently examined—small towns and cities in the North and Midwest. Clark-Pujara contends that the full dimensions of the African American and the American experience cannot be appreciated without reference to how Black people managed their lives in places where they were few. Her first book Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island (NYU Press, 2016), examines how the business of slavery—economic activity that was directly related to the maintenance of slaveholding in the Americas, specifically the buying and selling of people, food, and goods—shaped the experience of slavery, the process of emancipation, and the realities of black freedom in Rhode Island from the colonial period through the American Civil War. Her current book project, Black on the Midwestern Frontier: From Slavery to Suffrage in the Wisconsin Territory, 1725—1868, examines how the practice of race-based slavery, black settlement, and debates over abolition and black rights shaped white-Black race relations in the Midwest.

Clark-Pujara is committed to both academic scholarship and public history. She works closely with the Nehemiah Center for Urban Development, where she teaches community history courses. Her public history work also includes writing blogs and op-eds like, Many Tulsa Massacres: How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence, for the Smithsonian American History Magazine and “The 1539 Project: Why Black Midwest and Iowa History Matters“. Des Moines Register. Clark-Pujara is also  a Segment Producer, for an in-progress documentary African American Midwest” (Kartemquin Films and Democracy Films Co-Production distributed by PBS).

Selected Publications

“Race-Based Slavery and People of African Descent on the Midwestern Frontier,” Middle West Review 10, no. 2 (2024)

“The Persistent and Dangerous Myth of Race-Based Slavery as a Southern Institution,” a historical introduction for Unnamed Figures: Black Presence & Absence in Early American Vernacular Art, edited volume from the American Folk Art Museum (November 2023).

“A Location of Possibility: Teaching Black History to White Folks at Church: Justified Anger and Black History for a New Day,” Journal of American History, March 2023.

“Rachel, Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, WI,” Literary Landscapes Volume 10, December 2022.

“Foreword,” The Untold Story of Joshua Glover, Freedom Seeker by Ruby West Jackson, and Walter T. McDonald (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2022).

“Many Tulsa Massacres: How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence” in American Historical Association’s A Bibliography of Historians’ Responses to COVID-19 “Race and Health: COVID-19”:

“In Need of Care: African American Families Transform the Providence Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans during the Final Collapse of Slavery, 1839-1846,” Journal of Family History Volume 45, Issue 3 of Journal of Family History (Spring 2020)

“Contested: Black Suffrage in Early Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Magazine of History (Summer 2017).

“Slavery and the Northern Economy,” eds. Lynn Lyerly and Bethany Jay, Understanding and Teaching American Slavery (University of Wisconsin: Madison, 2016). Winner of the James Harvey Robinson Prize (2018).

Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island (New York: New York University Press, 2016).

“The Business of Slavery and Anti-Slavery Sentiment: The Case of Rowland Gibson Hazard—An Anti-Slavery Negro Cloth Dealer,” Rhode Island History 71:2 (Summer/Fall 2013).

Fellowships and Grants 

H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2023 – 2028.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Just Futures Grant, “Humanities Education for Anti-racism -Literacy (HEALSTEM) in Sciences and Medicine,” (co-principal investigator), University of Wisconsin Madison, 2021-2024)

Co-Lead Scholar Advisor, “Lucy Terry Prince Website Project,” National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, 2023

Vilas Faculty Early Career Investigator Award, University of Wisconsin, 2018 – 2020

Feminist Scholar’s Fellowship, UW-Madison Center for Research on Gender and Women, 2019

Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities,

University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2013 – 2014

University Awards and Honors 

Honored Instructor Award, University Housing, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2022, 2020, 2014

Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award, University of Wisconsin System, 2019

Outstanding Woman of Color Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2018

Vilas Associate Award, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2015 – 2016

Community Awards and Honors 

YWCA Madison Woman of Distinction, Madison, Wisconsin, 2022

  • YWCA Madison is proud to have recognized women since the first Woman of Distinction was bestowed the honor in 1974. Their community service, professional achievement, integrity, leadership, and dedication to the lives of others and the quality of life for all stand as a reflection of YWCA Madison’s historic mission and values. These awards were established to increase community awareness and appreciation of the diverse contributions of women in the workforce and the community.

Athena Award, Madison, Wisconsin, 2022

  • Athena honors women and men who have achieved excellence in their profession or life’s work. Past ATHENA nominees and recipients have included business professionals, government employees, police and firefighters, healthcare professionals, and members of the academic community.

Community Leadership Award, Church Women United of Madison, World Community Day, 2020

  • Church Women United is a racially, culturally, and theologically inclusive Christian women’s movement celebrating unity in diversity and working for a world of peace and justice.

Media Presence

UW-Madison, Letters and Science, Elevate Podcast, “The Wisconsin Idea: Through the Lens of Black History.

PBS Wisconsin, “Wisconsin in Black & White,” 2 October 2023.

“The 1539 Project: Why Black Midwest and Iowa history matters.” Des Moines Register,, 11 December 2022.

Finding Humanity Podcast “Unarmed: The Enduring Fight For Black Lives in America,”, March 2021.

Wisconsin Public Radio, Central Time, “America’s History of Northern White Violence,”, September 21, 2020.

WORT, A Public Affair, “The History of Racism in the Midwest,” September 2, 2020.

CNN Interview, “Historical Context concerning the Protest and Violence in Kenosha, WI,” . August 30, 2020.

Time Magazine about events in Kenosha, WI:, August 28, 2020.

Blogpost, Many Tulsa Massacres: How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence, Smithsonian Magazine, August 27, 2020.

Podcast—Textualizing the Past: Slavery in New England Episode 15., August 7, 2020.

The Dig: Capitalism and Slavery. Part 1., May 15, 2019.

Radio Chipstone: Black Male Suffrage, WUWM 89.7,, April 7, 2018.

Slavery and the Northern Economy, Teaching Tolerance: Teaching Hard History Podcast, Slavery and the Northern Economy, (, February 5, 2018.

Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island, Interview, Rhode Island Public Radio, Christy Clark-Pujara: A History of Rhode Island’s Slave Economy, (, February 21, 2017.

Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island, Interview, Ben Franklin’s World: A podcast about early American History (, January 2017.

“Wisconsin’s Halting Path Towards Black Suffrage, University Place: Slavery, Citizenship And Securing The Right To Vote In a New State,” Scott Gordon, WisContext ( July 10, 2018.

“America’s First Anti-Slavery Statute Was Passed in 1652. Here’s Why It Was Ignored,” ( May 18, 2017.

Courses Taught:

Introduction to African American History

History of Slavery in the United States

History of Slavery and Emancipation in the United States

History of Slavery and Capitalism in the United States

History of Women and Slavery in the United States

African Americans in the Age of Revolution