The research and writing here reflect my long-term study of petitioning in North American and Atlantic history. My archival and data-collection efforts have been focused upon petitions in nineteenth-century North America, colonial and early national Massachusetts, colonial New France, early modern France and England, and Native North Americans more generally.  

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Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press).

  • Selected as one of The Five Democracy Books from 2021 You Must Read by Democracy Paradox.

“The Popular Origins of Legislative Jurisdictions: Petitions and Standing Committee Formation in Colonial Virginia and the Early U.S. House” (with Benjamin Schneer, Tobias Resch and Maggie Blackhawk). Journal of Politics, forthcoming. [ungated version]

“Congressional Representation by Petition: Assessing the Voices of the Voteless in a Comprehensive New Database, 1789-1949,” (with Maggie Blackhawk, Tobias Resch and Benjamin Schneer). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Early View (September 6, 2020)

“Quand le pétitionnement contribue au façonnage de l’Agenda Politique : L’Abolition de la Tenure Seigneuriale au Canada Français, 1849-1854,” Participations, forthcoming. [P]

“L’éruption patriote: The Revolt against Dalhousie and the Petitioning Explosion in Nineteenth-Century French Canada” (with Doris Brossard), Social Science History 43 (Fall 2019) 453-485. [P]

  • Finalist for the 2020 William Koren, Jr. Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies, for the most outstanding article on any period of French history published the previous year by a scholar appointed at a college or university in the United States or Canada.

“Suffrage Petitioning as Formative Practice: American Women Presage and Prepare for the Vote, 1870-1920” (with Tobias Resch, Zachary Popp, Benjamin Schneer and Nicole Topich), Studies in American Political Development 32 (1) (May 2018), 24-48. [P]

  • Received the Arline Custer Memorial Award of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference for 2018.

“Paths of Recruitment: Rational Social Prospecting in Petition Canvassing” (with Clayton Nall and Benjamin Schneer), American Journal of Political Science 62 (1) (January 2018) 192-209; [P]

  • Received the American Journal of Political Science Best Paper Award for Volume 62 (2018).

“Recruitment by Petition: American Abolitionism, French Protestantism, English Suppression,” Perspectives on Politics 14 (3) (September 2016), 700-723. 

“Party Formation Through Petitions: The Whigs and the Bank War of 1832-34” (with Benjamin Schneer), Studies in American Political Development 29 (2) (October 2015), 213-34. 

“When Canvassers Became Activists: Antislavery Petitioning and the Political Mobilization of American Women” (with Colin D. Moore), American Political Science Review, 108 (3) (August 2014), 479-498. Lead article of August 2014 issue; doi:10.1017/S000305541400029X

  • Received the 2015 Mary Parker Follett Award of the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association, for the Best Article in Politics and History in 2014.




Digital Archive of Native American Petitions in Massachusetts [mapview]


Digital Archive of Massachusetts Antislavery and Anti-Segregation Petitions [mapview]


Antislavery Petitions Sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, 1833-1845 [a statistical description of over 8,000 petitions sent to the U.S. House from the 24th through 28th Congresses; collected and curated with Professor Colin Moore and Professor Charles Stewart, III]


Congressional Petitions Database [a statistical description of over 500,000 petitions set to the U.S. Congress from 1789 to 1949; collected and curated with Professor Maggie Blackhawk, Professor Benjamin Schneer and Tobias Resch]






Works in Progress

The First Petitioners: Political Innovation among Native North Americans to the Indian New Deal (Oklahoma Universty Press, in preparation; the Julian Rothbaum Lectures in Representative Government).

“Indigenous Representation by Petition: Transformations in Haudenosaunee Complaint and Request, 1680-1760,” presented at the Yale Study Group on Native America and the American Politics Workshop, Yale (January 2015), the American Politics Workshop at Harvard (February 2015), the American Politics Workshop at Columbia (March 2015), the History and Culture Workshop, Harvard (March 2015), the APSA annual meetings, San Francisco (September 2015) and the Native American Studies and International History Workshop, Dartmouth College (November 2015).

“Agenda Democracy in the United States: Advocates, Petitions and Protests.”

« La pétition antiesclavagiste américaine au 19eme siècle -- Leçons et possibilités de recherches comparatives », presented at conference "Pétitionner : Appel aux Pouvoirs Législatifs aux 19e et 20e siècles," Assemblée Nationale, Paris, and Université Marne-la-Vallée, France, March 2013.



For support of this project, I gratefully acknowledge a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, a residential fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Academic Ventures Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR, Mellon Foundation) and the Institutional Development Initiative in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

Guggenheim Radcliffe RDE HFAS