Sophie White

Sophie White

Associate Professor Director of Undergraduate Studies

1047 Flanner Hall / (574) 631 6529

Research Interests

  • French Colonial America
  • Race and Slavery, African-American and Native-American History
  • Material Culture

Sophie White is Associate Professor of American Studies, Concurrent Associate Professor in the Departments of Africana Studies, History, and Gender Studies, and Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


She is an historian of early America with an interdisciplinary focus on cultural encounters between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans, and a commitment to Atlantic and global research perspectives. In addition to thirteen articles and essays, in journals such as The William and Mary QuarterlyGender and History and The Winterthur Portfolio, her first book, Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians: Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana was published with the University of Pennsylvania Press/McNeil Series in Early American Studies in 2012.


Her current monograph, Intimate Voices of the African Diaspora: Narrating Slavery in French Louisiana (in press, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/University of North Carolina Press) foregrounds an exceptional set of source material about slavery in French America: court cases in which enslaved individuals testified and in the process produced riveting autobiographical narratives (for more click here). With Trevor Burnard, she is co-editing a volume on slave testimony in French and British America 1750-1848 (under contract, Routledge) and she is preparing a primary source reader, Hearing Slaves Speak in Colonial America: An Edition and Translation of Voices of the Voiceless.


Among other grants and awards, White was a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for each book project.



Books & Edited Volumes

  • Intimate Voices of the African Diaspora: Narrating Slavery in French Louisiana (in press, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/University of North Carolina Press, Fall 2019)
  • Slave Narratives in French and British America 1700-1848, co-edited with Trevor Burnard (under contract, Routledge)
  • Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians: Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana (University of Pennsylvania Press/ McNeil Series in Early American Studies, 2012, reprint 2014)
    Reviewed in: American Historical Review (featured review); American Indian Culture and Research Journal; American Literary History; American Studies; Canadian Journal of American History; Dalhousie French Studies; Ethnohistory; French Studies; Journal of American History; Journal of Illinois History; Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society; Journal of Jesuit Studies; Journal of Southern History; The Historian; Le Journal; Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine; Textile History; The William and Mary Quarterly; The Winterthur Portfolio
  • Guest Editor, special issue of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, on “Dress and Gender” Vol. 9, issue 2 (June 2005)

Select Articles & Essays

Podcasts & Public History Publications

Recent Courses Taught

  • CSEM 23102  Clothes Make the Man
  • AMST 30126  Captives & Slaves
  • AMST 30143  Fashioning American Identities
  • AMST 30170  Laboring Women in Early America
  • AMST 43137  The Meaning of Things

Recent Books


"Historians dream of writing a book that will give us a new lens to make sense of the past. Sophie White has done that with Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians. Her insistence on finding a way to look at colonial people allows the rest of us to seethem with a new clarity that reveals how much we have missed in the contested process that made race in the Atlantic World." - Emily Clark, Tulane University
"Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians is a brilliant book. With intelligence and precision, White examines a trove of fresh material culture evidence from the Upper Mississippi Valley and advances a new mode of analysis that goes deep into the possible meanings of Frenchness and Indianness, ultimately revealing a much slower timeline than scholars have claimed for the progression of racialized categories that foreclosed the possibility of identity transformation." - Kathleen Brown, University of Pennsylvania
"Drawing on French-language archival sources and an impressively interdisciplinary range of secondary literature, White argues that material culture—clothing and the clothed and groomed body—are central to understanding the complexity of the hybrid cultures of Upper and Lower Louisiana in the eighteenth century. Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians is a wonderfully original contribution to the English-language scholarship." - Ann M. Little, Colorado State University