Alexandra Finley

Alexandra Finley

Alexandra Finley

Assistant Professor

Allen 232

African American history, Labor history, Women’s history, Antebellum South, Nineteenth-century U.S.



I am a historian of slavery, race, and gender in the nineteenth-century South. I am particularly interested in the experiences of enslaved women and the economic significance of their labor. My current project looks at women in the domestic slave trade, focusing specifically on the role of women’s domestic, reproductive, and sexual labor. I argue that women’s coerced, waged, and household work, including sewing, washing, cooking, cleaning, and nursing, formed the foundation upon which the rest of the slave trade functioned. More broadly, I emphasize the economic significance of domestic work, which often goes unrecognized in traditional economic histories. As many of the women I study are of African and European descent, I am also interested in mixed race studies and the place of mixed race people in nineteenth-century conceptions of race.


College of William & Mary                                    

Doctor of Philosophy     2017                                          

“Blood Money: Sex, Family, and Finance in the Antebellum Slave Trade”


College of William & Mary                         

Master of Arts               2012

American History                                                       


The Ohio State University                             

Bachelor of Arts – Summa Cum Laude          2010


Academic Career

Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University, Department of History, 2017-

Research Interests

African American history, History of slavery, Labor history, Women’s history, Gender and sexuality, History of capitalism, Antebellum South, Nineteenth-century U.S.




  • “’Cash to Corinna’: Domestic Labor and Sexual Economy in the ‘Fancy Trade,’” Journal of American History (September 2017)


Web-based Publications

  • “What’s in a Name? Or, Who Put the Omohundro in the Institute of Early American History and Culture?” Uncommon Sense: the Blog of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, (June 29, 2016)




  • “The Sexual Economy of the New Orleans Slave Market,” Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, New Orleans (April 2017)
  • “Family/Business: the Private Sides of Business and Empire in Antebellum America,” Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, Denver (January 2017)
  • “Women and the Economy of Slavery in Early America,” OIEAHC Region and Nation in American Histories of Race and Slavery Conference, Mount Vernon (October 2016)
  • Panel Organizer, “Capital, Commodification, and Slavery,” Annual Meeting of the Southern Historical Association, Little Rock, Arkansas (November 2015)
  • “Mrs. Omohundro’s Boarding House: Domestic Economy and the Richmond Slave Market,” Society for Historians of the Early Republic Annual Meeting, Raleigh, NC (July 16-19, 2015)
  • Panel Member, “To Be Sold: the American Slave Trade in Virginia and New Orleans” Symposium, a joint conference of the Library of Virginia, the Midlo Center at the University of New Orleans, and the Historic New Orleans Collections (March 21, 2015)
  • “The Life and Love of Slave Trader Silas Omohundro,” Invited Speaker for the Library of Virginia’s “To Be Sold” Exhibit (February 24, 2015)
  • Consulting Historian, “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” (Season 2, 2014) 
  • “The Cost of the Trade: A Slave Trader’s Business Network in Antebellum Richmond, Virginia,” The Virginia Forum, George Mason University (March 2014)
  • “The Legend of Pretty Hair: Native American Women in Appalachian Racial Memory,” Women of Appalachia: Native American Impact, Influence and Intersection, Ohio University (October 2011)

Honors & Awards

  • Provost Dissertation Fellowship, College of William & Mary (2016-2017)
  • McNeil Center for Early American History Advisory Council Fellow (2015-2016)
  • Glucksman Fellow, College of William & Mary (2015-2016)
  • Dean’s Research Fund, College of William & Mary (2015)
  • Provost Grant, College of William & Mary (2015)
  • Betty Sams Christian Fellowship in Business History, Virginia Historical Society (2014)
  • Parker-Dooley Visiting Scholar, Southern Historical Collection, UNC – Chapel Hill (2014)
  • Morton Grant, The College of William and Mary (2014)

Professional Associations

American Historical Association

Organization of American Historians

Southern Historical Association

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