Alexandra Garrett Assistant Professor of History

Alexandra Garrett


M.A., Ph.D., History, University of Virginia
B.A., History, English, Women’s Studies concentration, St. Olaf College

Courses I Teach

  • America to 1865
  • The American Revolution
  • Gender and Power in Early America & the U.S. (1600s-1850s)
  • Early American History on Screen
  • Public History
  • Senior Seminar

Areas of Expertise

  • Early America
  • 18th and 19th century United States
  • Women, Gender, & Sexuality
  • Slavery
  • Virginia
  • Business
  • Carceral studies

My teaching and research philosophies are guided by my belief that historians of early America can use our knowledge of the past to help build a more equitable United States. Both interests work in tandem: my research into the complicated factors that structured America’s past socioeconomic and gender relations enables me to more clearly teach my students how people then, and now, can create change for the better over time. After learning about the historical roots of familiar aspects of their everyday lives, students can then confidently challenge accepted truths, think about the world in new ways, and put their skills to use to change that world.

Current Research

I’m currently working on a microhistory that follows the life of Kate McCall (1766-1828), a wealthy, never-married, and Enlightenment-educated white woman who lived in the Northern Neck region of Virginia. The largest female slave-owner in her county at the turn of the 19th century, McCall founded two slave-manned iron-making manufactories in Alexandria and Richmond. I analyze how feme soles like McCall relied on the labor of their communities’ most subjugated peoples to enrich themselves as businesswomen.

I’m also working on an article about the claims Loyalist widows from Virginia submitted to Britain’s Loyalist Claims Commission after the American Revolutionary War, and an article about the early years of the Virginia State Penitentiary.

Awards, Recognitions, Memberships

All-University Graduate Teaching Award, University of Virginia

I’ve secured over $100,000 in grant and fellowship support from humanities institutions to aid my research. Institutions include Harvard Business School, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Virginia Historical Society.

In 2023, I was elected as a member of the Research/Historical Committee for Governor Phil Scott’s Vermont’s 250th Anniversary Committee. The statewide committee will coordinate and promote observances and activities that commemorate the historic events associated with the American Revolution in Vermont by 2026.

In 2023, I was selected to the Board of Directors of the New American Antiquarian, a peer-reviewed history journal and non-profit organization.

In 2022, I was elected as a member to the Board of Directors of the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum, located in Burlington, Vermont.

Berkshire Conference of Women Historians
Business History Conference
Coordinating Council for Women in History
National Women’s Studies Association
Organization of American Historians
Researching Women of Management & Enterprise Network
Southern Association for Women Historians
Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic
Southern Historical Association
Southern Labor Studies Association

Recent News

Alexandra Garrett joined the Saint Michael’s History Department for this Fall Semester as of August 1, 2022, as assistant professor in U.S. History specializing in pre-contact to 1865. For the past two years, she worked at Iona University as the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies and University of Virginia Press Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-2022). Before that, she worked as a Teaching Assistant while earning her doctorate at the University of Virginia (2014-2020). She recently moved from Yonkers, NY, to Burlington, as a newlywed, with her husband, Geoffrey, who works in elections data journalism. This fall she took upper-level history majors from her “American Revolution” class on a field trip to the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum in Burlington on Tuesday, October 25. She also gave a presentation to the Massachusetts Historical Society on October 27 as part of a virtual online panel titled “Gender, Sexuality, and Race in the Nineteenth Century.”
(posted February 2023)

Ben Davidson and Alexandra Garrett of the history faculty both presented at a conference this November in Baltimore, MD. The conference was the annual Southern Historical Association conference; the SHA is the premier scholarly organization for historians of the U.S. South. Alexi presented research from her book project on a panel entitled “Heroes and Villains in Mind and Living Memory: Southern Patriots and Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War,” and Ben served as the commentator for a panel titled “Alternative Southern Perspectives on the Civil War.”
(posted February 2023)

Economic Histories of Slavery and Abolition,” Business History Collective, June 2021

New Frontiers in Early American History” presentation, co-hosted by the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, Nov. 2020

Interviewed for Mount Vernon’s Conversations at the Washington Library podcast (episode 201) entitled “Uncovering the Virginia Loyalists with Drs. Stephanie Seal Walters and Alexi Garrett” (May 13, 2021)

Interviewed for Mount Vernon’s Conversations at the Washington Library podcast (episode 141) episode entitled “Accounting for Women in the Business of Slavery with Alexi Garrett” (Jan. 16, 2020)

Interviewed for Whiskey Rebellion podcast (episode 105) to discuss my dissertation research and take on Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally and protest of Aug. 12, 2017 (Sept. 7, 2019)

Interviewed for Hagley Museum and Library’s Stories from the Stacks podcast, episode entitled “The Lost History of Female Business Owners in the 19th Century” (March 30, 2018)