Laura M. Chmielewski
Associate Professor of History
I teach early American, Atlantic world, and public history and am the author of three books: The Spice of Popery: Converging Christianities on an Early American Frontier (University of Notre Dame, 2011), The Atlantic Experience: Peoples, Places, Ideas (with Catherine M. Armstrong; Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet: Exploration, Encounter and the French New World (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2017). I’m also a co-founder and chair of Purchase’s Museum Studies minor and the author of numerous essays, book chapters, and reviews. I enjoy public lecturing and have delivered talks to a variety of Westchester organizations and beyond, including Saint Paul’s National Historic Site (New Rochelle, NY) and Historic Annapolis (Annapolis, MD), and the New-York Historical Society. In the recent past I’ve served as a historian-in-residence at Historic Hudson Valley, a consortium of house museums, and as a contributor of book reviews to America magazine, the national Jesuit weekly. The result of the former collaboration is the critically-acclaimed and NEH and New York Council for the Arts-funded web resource “People not Property: Stories of Slavery in Colonial New York.” My new scholarly projects include book-length studies of maritime religion in the early Americas, the rhetorical uses of living history sites during the 20th century with a specific eye on Colonial Williamsburg and its Bicentennial, and a general history of early American Catholic people.
More About Me
I enjoy playing bowed string instruments (historical and modern), riding horses, creating art in various forms, birdwatching, visiting museums, exploring maritime communities, hiking, tennis and biking. I especially like pastimes that increase my knowledge of the historical subjects I study and teach.
My research interests include Atlantic World religious cultures and practices, material culture of the Atlantic World, Catholicism in the colonial Americas, the French colonial new world, maritime history, early American diversity, and the American Colonial Revival period of the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.
- From Explorations to New Nations: North America, 1450-1820
- Farm Fish Graze Sail: Americans and the Natural World, 1607-1900
- American History in Three Dimensions: Creators, Innovations, and Objects, 1607-1900
- The Atlantic World, 1450-1888
- Living in Early America
- Colonial and Revolutionary America
- The New Nation: America, 1788-1848
- American Frontiers: The West, 1607-1935
- The Blue and the Gray: The American Civil War
- Classic Hollywood, Early America
- History and Its Publics: Presenting the American Past
- Development of the United States I
- From Exploration to New Nation: America, 1491 - 1820 (new introductory course; design in progress)
Presentations / Conferences
Select Conference Appearances:
Chair, Commentator and Originator, “Faith in Public: Interpreting Religion at American Museums and Historic Sites,” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting (April 2019)
Chair, “Protestants and Catholics in Early New England,” American Historical Association/American Society of Church History (January 2015)
- Presenter, “Holy Rolling: Religious Culture and the Early Modern Maritime Atlantic” paper to be presented at Forum for European Expansion and Global Interaction Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA (February 2014)
- Chair, “Bringing Slavery into Interpretation at American House Museums,” panel presented at Society of Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO (July 2013)
- Presenter, “The Ship as Church: Seventeenth Century Seafarers and the Creation of Shipboard Religious Spaces,” paper scheduled for American Studies Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD (October 2011) as part of panel “The Material Culture of American Religion”
- Presenter, “Jesuits at Sea: Atlantic Crossings, Religious Culture and the Society of Jesus, 1611 - 1744,” paper at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, New Paltz, NY (June 2011); also originator (with Christopher Magra, University of Tennessee) of panel “Maritime Religiosity in the Atlantic World: Seafarers and the Observation, Formation and Transmission of Religious Ideas”
- Commentator and Chair of panel “Biography and Material Culture as Pedagogy: from the Archives to the Kitchen,” panel presented at conference SI 350: Celebrating Staten Island History and Culture (March 2011)
- Presenter, “Preparing the Next Generation: Undergraduates as Public History Students and Consumers,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council for Public History/American Association of State and Local History, Providence, RI (April ’09)
- Presenter, “The Ways of ‘His Industry:’ Men of God and Their Transatlantic Ministries on the Maine Frontier, 1688-1727,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, Seattle, WA (March ’09)
Select Public Lectures:
“Faith and the Sea,” lecture presented at Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, November 5, 2017.
Keynote Speaker, Society of the History of Discoveries Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI, September 23, 2017.
“Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and the French New World,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (August 2017). Broadcast premier on C-Span September 19, 2017.
“Westchester County in an Atlantic World,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (November 2016)
“Anne Hutchinson’s Atlantic Odyssey,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (August 2015)
“Religious Pluralism in Early America,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (August 2014)
“Religious Tensions in Early America,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (August 2013)
“Atlantic Anne: Anne Hutchinson’s Atlantic World” lecture presented at Philipse Manor Hall in Celebration of the “Anne Hutchinson Year” (November 2011)
“Anne Hutchinson and Her Family: Complex Religious Legacies,” lecture presented at National Park Service/Old St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site (March 2011)
“House Museums and the Colonial Revival,” lecture presented to volunteer corps of the Hudson River Museum (Fall ’09)
Exhibitions / Performances
- “1673 French Exploration of the Mississippi River,” C-Span 3, September 16 2017.