Virginia Tech® home

Lucien Holness

Lucien Holness, Assistant Professorl Associate

Lucian Holness
Lucien Holness, Assistant Professor

Department of History
414 Major Williams Hall, 220 Stanger Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-8375 |

Lucien Holness specializes in African American history and the early United States. His current manuscript project examines the making of free soil and black freedom, as well as the abolitionist movement in southwestern Pennsylvania from 1780 to 1865. It illustrates how geography (physical and political) influenced ideas about race and the types of strategies abolitionists favored in their fight against slavery and for black rights. The project also traces the origins of free labor ideology to 1780s southwestern Pennsylvania, when it was one of the first territories opened to westward expansion and where the place of black people remained uncertain. Alongside this nascent idea of free labor emerged an oppositional culture created by African Americans and their white antislavery allies that was shaped by their geographic location, worksites, institutions, and living conditions. This led to the formation of counter ideas about free soil, the west, black freedom, race, and citizenship.

Dr. Holness teaches courses covering African American history (HIST/AFST 2275 and HIST/AFST2276) and the United States from the Colonial Period to the Civil War (HIST1115).

  • African American History, Political, Social, Intellectual, Gender 
  • Nineteenth Century United States History
  • Slavery and Abolition in the United States 
  • Race in the United States 
  • Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
  • M.A., Villanova University
  • B.A., Slippery Rock University 
  • Member, American Historical Association 
  • Member, Association for the Study of African American Life and History
  • Member, Society of Civil War Historians

  • Member, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic
  • Consortium Dissertation Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2018-2019  
  • Jay and Deborah Last Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2018  
  • Short Term Fellow Mellon Scholars Program in African American History, The Library Company of Philadelphia, 2017  

“African American Antislavery Activism in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” The Vesey Conspiracy at 200: Black Antislavery in the Atlantic World. Co-sponsored by the Carolina Low Country in the Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston and Soka University of America. Charleston, SC, February 8, 2019. 

“Race, Labor, and Citizenship: Imagining the Pennsylvania Trans-Appalachian West, 1780- 1826,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic annual meeting, Cleveland, OH, July 21, 2018. 

“Competing Approaches to Antislavery & Black Representational Politics in Southwestern PA, 1816-1850” Lebanon Valley College Center for Political History second annual conference on American Political History, Annville, PA, June 9, 2018. 

Featured Books

Select Media Mentions