Natalie Zacek

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I received my PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2000, and since then have taught American history at the University of Manchester. At the University, I am an active member of the American Studies Research Group and the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Within the profession, I am a member of the Royal Historical Society, the British Group in Early American History, British American Nineteenth-Century Historians, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Recent and current research projects

In 2010 Cambridge University Press published my first monograph, Settler Society in the English Leeward Islands, 1670-1776. This book, which won the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone Prize, is a study of the formation of white settler societies in the British West Indian colony of the Leeward Islands, comprising Antigua, Montserrat, Nevis, and St. Kitts, in the century from their foundation as an English colony to the outbreak of the American Revolution and onset of their subsequent socioeconomic decline. It is based upon extensive archival research in the United States, Britain, and the Caribbean, and examines such topics as norms of gender and sexuality, competing religious practices, relations between white ethnic communities, and the formation of a political culture which was simultaneously imperially British and locally West Indian.

My second monograph,Thoroughbred Nation: Making America at the Racetrack, 1793-1900, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in autumn 2024. This examination of thoroughbred horse-racing in the United States from the late eighteenth through the end of the nineteenth century focusses on the ways in which a variety of local, regional, and national elites employed the breeding, ownership, and racing of blooded horses in order to uphold these groups’ social, cultural, and political hegemony. 

My subsequent project is a study of the role played by West Indian absentee planters in the cultural and spatial development of later Georgian London. My first publication from this project will appear in a volume from the University of Virginia Press in 2024.

In spring 2022 I was a Faculty Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for American Studies at Harvard University, beginning work on a project entitled "The Price of Knowledge: English Universities and Slavery." This project originated in my and my former PhD student Matthew Stallard's research into the links between the University of Manchester's early donors and wealth derived from commerce in slave-produced commodities, and will result in (a) a short book aimed at a popular audience which will offer the first in-depth examination of the relationship between England's universities and people, ideas, objects, and funds connected to the nation's history of enslavement, and (b) a guest-edited special issue of American Nineteenth-Century History, in which members of the Warren Center seminar and invited scholars will analyse American universities' heritage of slavery, and their responses to that heritage. A paper on the University of Manchester's relationship to transatlantic slavery. which I co-authored with Prof. Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President for Social Responsibility, is available here: 

Doctoral Supervision

I have supervised to completion the following PhD students at the University of Manchester:

  • Laura Sandy: "Overseers and Their Place in Colonial American Plantation Society" (currently reader in history at the University of Liverpool)
  • Patrick Doyle, "Disloyalty, Dissent, and Treason in Civil War South Carolina" (currently lecturer in history at Royal Holloway)
  • Natalie Armitage: "The Cultural History of the Voodoo Doll" (currently education programme manager at the British Ceramics Biennial)
  • Matthew Stallard: "Racial Classification and Urban Space in Early Nineteenth-Century New Orleans" (currently research associate at the Legacies of British Slave Ownership project at University College London)
  • Patrick Massey, "New Orleans Exceptionalism in the Cultural Response to Hurricane Katrina"
  • Helen Kilburn, "Catholics in the Colonies: Nation, Religion and Race in Seventeenth-Century Maryland" (currently assistant rector at the University of Notre Dame's London Global Gateway)
  • Katie Myerscough, "Progressive Plans and Urban Realities in St Louis, 1890-1923" (currently a history teacher at Manchester Academy)
  • Mary Booth, "Collective Amnesia and the Evolving Narrative of the Enslaved: A Study of Slavery Representation within Privately Managed Plantations and Historic Houses in the US and the UK" (currently programme manager at the Center for the Study of International Slavery, University of Liverpool)

My current PhD students are:

Imani Khaled, who works on the phenomenon of "human collecting" at the early modern European court;

Camilla de Koning, whose doctoral project on "Crown Engagement in Britain's Emerging Empire, 1660-1775" is funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentship with Historic Royal Palaces and co-supervised by Edmond Smith (History);

Ari Epstein, who examines how which white nationalist ideology interprets aspects of the history of the American Revolution and the Constitution.

I welcome enquiries from potential research students interested in the history of the United States, the West Indies, and the Atlantic world in the period bounded broadly by the Columbian voyages and the American Civil War, particularly those interested in social and cultural history, race, slavery and abolition, gender and sexuality, material culture, and the history of urbanism and the built environment. The John Rylands Library holds many collections relevant to these topics, including the Stapleton Manuscripts , the Brooke of Mere Muniments, the Thomas Coke Papers,  the Raymond Anti-Slavery Collection, the Voyages and Travel Collection, the Manchester Geographical Society Collection, and numerous sources on the global/transatlantic textile industry. The University Library subscribes to databases such as the African American Experience, Colonial State Papers, Early American Fiction, European Views of the Americas, Nineteenth-Century U.S. Newspapers, Readex Early American Imprints, and Sabin Americana, and is constantly adding to its collection of electronic research resources.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Council member, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (2024 - 2027)

Steering committee member, Universities Studying Slavery (2023 - )

Chair, Elsa Goveia Book Prize Committee, Association of Caribbean Historians (2022 - 2023)

Editorial committee member, Manchester University Press (2021 - )

Editorial board member, Global Nineteenth-Century Studies (2021 - )

Member, Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (2020 - )

Steering committee member, Committee for the Defence of British Universities (2020 - 2021)

Member, Lawrence W. Levine Prize Committee, Organization of American Historians (2020-2021)

Editor, American Nineteenth Century History (2019 - )

Steering committee member, British American Nineteenth-Century Historians (2019 - )

Editorial board member, European Association for American Studies book series (2019 - )

Editorial board member, New Historical Perspectives book series, Royal Historical Society (2016-2021)


Office hours

Autumn 2024: to be determined


AMER20141: From Jamestown to James Brown: African-American History and Culture

AMER20412: Southern Crossings: Gender and Sexuality in the American South (not offered in 2024 - 2025)

AMER30811: American Hauntings

AMER60112: Radical Subcultures (with Prof Eithne Quinn) (not offered in 2024 - 2025)

Prizes and awards

Gladstone Prize, Royal Historical Society (2011), awarded annually for the best first monograph on non-British history by a member of the UK academic community

Social responsibility

In 2010 I was awarded second place in the University's Community Service and Volunteer of the Year Awards (staff category), for my involvement with the Manchester branch of the Samaritans.

I an actively engaged in sharing my research and teaching expertise beyond the academic community. I taught several modules on slavery, abolition, and the American Civil War through the University's continuing education programme, led a workshop on the relationship between capitalism and transatlantic slavery at the Manchester Central Library, and have given talks on black history at the Manchester Histories Festival and to community, school, and religious groups.

In autumn 2017 I received an award from the University's Social Responsibility in the Curriculum fund, in support of a Black History Month exhibition and programme of events, "Bittersweet: Slavery and Abolition in Manchester," which I developed in conjunction with Manchester's Portico Library. 

Media contributions and coverage

Interviewee for "Oldham's Complicated Relationship with American Slavery" (7 October 2023)

Interviewee for "A Top UK Newspaper Explores Its Ties to Slavery, and Britain's," New York Times (8 July 2023) (

Interviewee for "The Real Alexander Hamilton," Dan Snow's History Hit (June 2022)

Interviewee on American history issues for the Wednesday Breakfast Programme, Voice of Islam Radio (2020; 2022; 2023)

Interviewee for “Afrofuturism in Hollywood,” Deutsche Welle (12 April 2021) (

Appeared on an episode of Channel 4's Britain's Most Historic Towns (2020)

Interviewee for “Trump may have lost at the ballot box, but his style of politics isn’t going away,” Redaction Politics (16 December 2020) (

Appeared as a panelist on TRTWorld's Roundtable (2020)

Consulted and appeared on an episode of Enslaved,  a forthcoming Canadian/UK/US documentary series on the transatlantic slave trade (2019)

Consulted and appeared on an episode of BBC 4's Britain's Lost Masterpieces (2018)

Consulted on several episodes of BBC 3's Who Do You Think You Are? (2018)

Interviewed by the Yorkshire Voice about the election of Donald Trump (22 November 2016)

Appeared as a contestant on The Third Degree on BBC Radio 4 (2015)

Interviewee for the Independent on the relationship between history teaching at secondary and university levels (30 June 2010)

Interviewee for the Times Higher Education Supplement about current trends in university-level history curricula (11 July 2003)


Kerry Pimblott (History) and I, with a group of researchers and museum professionals, organised "Founders and Funders," a student research-led exhibition about the University of Manchester's historical connections to transatlantic slavery. This exhibition is at the John Rylands Library through March 2024 (

In 2012 I created a web-based secondary and university curriculum for the travelling and electronic versions of the (US) National Library of Medicine's exhibition on "Every Necessary Care and Attention: George Washington and Medicine" (

In 2017 I curated the Portico Library's first Black History Month exhibition, "Bittersweet: Legacies of Slavery and Abolition in Manchester" (


Further information

External evaluator: PhD programme in American Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan (2021 - )

PhD external examiner: University of Glasgow (History, 2020); University of Essex (American Studies, 2019); Maynooth University (History, 2012); University of Dundee (History, 2012)

Grant reviewer: Social Science Research Council of Canada (2019); Leverhulme Trust (2018); Arts and Humanities Research Council (2011; 2009)

Undergraduate programme external examiner: University of Warwick (History, 2018-2020); University of Dundee (History/American Studies, 2012-2016)

Undergraduate programme external adviser: University of Central Lancashire (Transatlantic Studies, 2018)

MPhil external examiner: Manchester Metropolitan University (History, 2014)

Tenure reviewer: Memorial University of Newfoundland (History, 2014); Yale-NUS College (History, 2023)

Periodical summariser, English Historical Review (2008-2016)

Co-founder and book review editor, H-Atlantic listserv (2000-2010)

Book manuscript reviewer: Bloomsbury Academic; Cambridge University Press; Institute of Latin American Studies; Liverpool University Press; Manchester University Press; Oxford University Press; Palgrave Macmillan; Routledge; University of Georgia Press; University of Pennsylvania Press; Yale University Press

Article manuscript reviewer: Atlantic Studies; Early American Studies; Eighteenth-Century Studies; Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World; The Global South; History: The Journal of the Historical Association; History of Women in the Americas; Human Remains and Violence; Journal of American Studies; Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies; Journal of Global History; Journal of Global Slavery; Journal of Women’s History; Studies in Travel Writing; U.S. Studies Online; Victorian Studies; Wadabagei; William and Mary Quarterly.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, History, Johns Hopkins University

Award Date: 31 May 2000

Master of Arts, History, with distinction, Johns Hopkins University

Award Date: 31 Dec 1994

Bachelor of Arts, History, Cornell University

Award Date: 31 May 1988

External positions

Faculty Fellow, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University

1 Jan 202230 Jun 2022

Visiting professor, Minsk Linguistic State University

16 Dec 201920 Dec 2019

Women's History Month visiting scholar, Minot State University

11 Apr 201115 Apr 2011

Visiting scholar, Johns Hopkins University

1 Sept 200731 Dec 2007

Areas of expertise

  • E11 America (General)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


  • United States; Caribbean; Atlantic; race; slavery; gender; material culture


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