About

Photograph of Professor Parr, in a blue blazer, white dress shirt, and black framed glasses.I am on the teaching faculty at Simmons University in Boston, MA, with affiliate appointments with the Africana Studies and the Critical Race and Gender Studies programs. I hold degrees from the University of New Hampshire at Durham (Ph.D. and M.A., History, 2012), and Simmons College, Boston (M.A. History, M.S. Archives Management, 2005; B.A. History, with Departmental Honors, 2000). I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and I have held fellowships and grants from the Boston Athenaeum, the American Studies Association, the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke University, Gilder Lehrman Institute, Mystic Seaport, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Methodist Archives, the Caroliniana Society, and Congregational Library. I am also a regular contributor to Black Perspectives, and formerly a regular contributor to The Junto: a Group Blog in Early American History, Black Perspectives, a co-List Editor for the H-Atlantic network, and a contributing historian to the More than a Map(p) project. I am also the Global Team Lead of The Programming Historian. My research and teaching interests include the Black Atlantic, civil rights, memory studies, digital humanities, and public history. 

My first book, Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a  Religious Icon was published by the University Press of Mississippi (cloth 2015; pbk 2016). I explore Whitefield’s development as a symbol shaped in the complexities of revivalism, the contest over religious toleration, and the conflicting roles of Christianity for enslaved people. Evangelical Christianity’s emphasis on “freedom in the eyes of God,” combined with the problems that the rhetoric of the Revolution posed for slavery, also suggested a path to political freedom. My analysis of the evolution of Whitefield’s thought on slavery is among the book’s central contributions. Another major contribution is my analysis of Whitefield’s afterlife.

I have an edited collection of the selected papers of eighteenth-century British physician/clergymen/abolitionist James Ramsay under contract with the University of Georgia Press. These papers draw on a collection of research notes, drafts, and correspondence complied by James Ramsay in the course of his writing of two abolitionist pamphlets published in 1784. The first was An Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies, and the second was An Inquiry into the Effects of Putting a Stop to the African Slave Trade: And of Granting Liberty to the Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies (1784). Ramsay’s pamphlets helped to draw attention to the public debate over slavery in Great Britain, as well as capturing the eye of the Bishop of London, who oversaw the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel’s plantations in the sugar colonies.

My current manuscript project explores the ways in which African American anti-slavery activists navigated the political and social structures that codified and perpetuated slavery between 1760 and 1860. One of the questions this book will explore was how African American activists’ responses to the diasporan entanglements with slavery changed from the eighteenth-century, with writers like Phillis Wheatley, Prince Hall, and Lemuel Hayes, to nineteenth-century writers like David Walker, Alexander Crummell, and Maria Stewart. The book then uses critical race theory and digital humanities methodology to argue that these activists created geographies of resistance that were shaped around the structures of slavery and white supremacy. I have collected data on over 500 Black intellectuals and activists who appear in slave narratives, court records, tracts, sermons, and other sources from British North America/the United States, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom and use the data visualization and geospatial analysis address the fragmentation of the Black archives (as described by Marisa Fuentes). My descriptions of the development of an African American intellectual geography draws from radical geography, deep mapping, and countermapping techniques within Black DH.  The research for this monograph has received funding from the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke, the Schomberg Center, and Boston Athenaeum among other places. I have also been invited to present work-in-progress at Yale, Oxford’s Rothermere Institute, the Institute for Historical Research, Cambridge University, and the University of Edinburgh.

I also have experience in public history and archives. I have worked in museums, libraries, and archives in a number of different functions, and consult on public history projects. You can find more on my recent consulting work here, and on my archives work here. I also have a list of my selected public writings, with links here.