Jacob Lee

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History

Department of History

  • jaflee@indiana.edu
  • Ballantine Hall 808
    1020 E Kirkwood Ave
    Bloomington, IN 47405-7103
  • Office Hours
    12:30-2:15p or by appointment
IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

My current book project, Rivers of Power: Indians and Colonists in the North American Midcontinent, combines social and environmental history to explore colonialism in early America. In Middle America, near the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers, power stemmed from control of the social and physical landscape. Indian nations and European empires faced the challenge of negotiating the region'''s river systems and its complicated social networks built on kinship ties. Rivers of Power follows the evolution of those social and spatial networks from about A.D. 1300, when the collapse of Cahokia, a Mississippian Indian chiefdom near present-day St. Louis, initiated a centuries-long power struggle, to the 1830s, when the U.S. empire conquered the midcontinent.

Honors and Awards

  • John Carter Brown Library Associates Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, Huntington Library
  • Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois Fellowship, Newberry Library
  • Bancroft Library Summer Study Award, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowship, William B. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Research Interests

  • Early America
  • The American West
  • Borderlands
  • Colonialism
  • Environmental history


  • Ph.D. at University of California, Davis, 2014

Courses Taught

  • The American West to 1850
  • Civil War and Reconstruction


  • "Unionism, Emancipation, and the Origins of Kentucky's Confederate Identity," The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 111 (Spring 2013): 199-233. Winner, Richard H. Collins Award, Kentucky Historical Society
  • "'Whether It Really Be Truth or Fiction': Colonel Reuben T. Durrett, the Filson Club, and Historical Memory in Postbellum Kentucky," Ohio Valley History 9 (Winter 2009): 27-47.
  • "'Between Two Fires': Cassius M. Clay, Slavery, and Antislavery in the Kentucky Borderlands," Ohio Valley History 6 (Fall 2006): 50-70.