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Department of History

Contact Information

phone: 615-322-5949
222 Benson Hall

Office Hours

On leave 2014-15


PhD, Duke University, 1981

Curriculum Vitae

Daniel H. Usner, Jr.

Holland M. McTyeire Professor of History

Daniel Usner is the author of Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783 (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), which won the Jamestown Prize from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the John H. Dunning Prize from the American Historical Association. His other books are American Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley: Social and Economic Histories (University of Nebraska Press, 1998) and Indian Work: Language and Livelihood in American History (Harvard University Press, 2009). Usner also co-edited, Indian SIA: The Social Impact Assessment of Rapid Resource Development on Native Peoples (University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, 1982).

His current book-length project is a study of the Chitimacha Indians of south Louisiana and their production of basketry during the heyday of the Indian arts and crafts movement. Current articles derived from this research are “An Ethnohistory of Things: Or, How to Treat California’s Canastromania,” Ethnohistory 59(Summer 2012), 441-63; and “From Bayou Teche to Fifth Avenue: Crafting a New Market for Chitimacha Indian Baskets,” Journal of Southern History 79(May 2013), 339-74. His latest works on early America are “Colonial Projects and Frontier Practices: The First Century of New Orleans History,” published in Frontier Cities: Recovering Encounters at the North American Crossroads of Empires, eds. Adam Arenson et al. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 27-45; “Rescuing Early America from Nationalist Narratives: A Transnational Approach to Colonial Canada and Louisiana,” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques (forthcoming); and “’A Savage Feast They Made Of It’: John Adams and the Paradoxical Origins of Federal Indian Policy,” Journal of the Early Republic (forthcoming).

Usner has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Cornell University Society for the Humanities, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, the School for Advanced Research, and the Robert Penn Warren Center. He directed Cornell University's American Indian Program from 1999-2002 and chaired Vanderbilt's history department from 2004 to 2007. Usner has served on the councils of the American Society for Ethnohistory and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. He was president of the American Society for Ethnohistory in 2010-11. In the fall of 2013, Usner will present the Lamar Memorial Lectures at Mercer University.

Daniel Usner teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on American Indians since 1500, comparative imperial borderlands, North American colonies, the U.S. early republic, and the history and culture of New Orleans.