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Lori J. Daggar

Lori Daggar is a historian of early North America. Her teaching and research locates and follows connections between diverse peoples, locales, and ideas, and this approach enables her to link interests in empire, capitalism, and indigenous histories to problems related to market development, reform, and race in early America. In the classroom, she encourages students to contemplate difficult questions of gender, race, and class by combining interdisciplinary thinking, active learning strategies, and ample discussion.

Daggar’s first book project, under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press as part of its Early American Studies series, traces the development of American empire by looking at the ideas, policies, and consequences of economic development, mission work, and philanthropy in Indian Country at the turn of the nineteenth century. It frames the contested Ohio Country as a case study, and it demonstrates that we should not understand missions and “civilizing” policies simply as tools for “assimilating the Indians.” Instead, it demonstrates that missions were hinges for economic and political development that also offered Native peoples an additional discourse and means to negotiate for power. 


Assistant Professor of History




  • B.A. Nazareth College
  • M.A. and Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania


Courses Taught:

  • American History to 1877
  • Native North America
  • Witches, Drudges, and Good Wives: Unpacking Gender, Race, and Sex in Early America
  • Making American Empire
  • Revolutionary America in a Global Age of Revolution
  • Colonial America: Violence, Movement, and Exchange in the Early Atlantic World
  • Philadelphia Story: The City as Text 
  • American Indian Activism and Red Power
  • Common Intellectual Experience (first-year seminar)
  • Bears Make History (DH course)

Professional Experience

  • Fellow, Bright Institute at Knox College, 2018-2020.
  • Advisory Council member and Research Associate, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

Research Interests

  • Early North American History
  • American Empire
  • History of Capitalism
  • Indian Removals
  • Missionaries, Philanthropy, and Empire
  • Diplomacy
  • Social Reform 

Recent Work

Book Manuscript

Cultivating Empire: Philanthropy, Profit, and the Negotiation of American Imperialism in Indian Country (under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press)

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters:

“‘A Damnd Rebelious Race’: The U.S. Civilization Plan and Native Authority,” in Ignacio Gallup-Diaz and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and American Indians (forthcoming, Brill Press).

“The Mission Complex: Economic Development, ‘Civilization’ and Empire in the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 36, no. 3 (Fall 2016).

Book Reviews and Invited Review Essays:

Review of John Reda, From Furs to Farms: The Transformation of the Mississippi Valley, 1762-1825. Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Summer 2018): 352-354.

“Indigenous History and Imperial America: American Indian History Today and Tomorrow,” Reviews in American History, Vol. 45, No. 3 (September 2017): 378-383.

Review of Michael Leroy Oberg, Professional Indian: The American Odyssey of Eleazer Williams. Ethnohistory 63, no. 4 (2016).

Review of Fixico, Donald, Call for Change: The Medicine Way of American Indian History, Ethos, and Reality. H-AmIndian, H-Net Reviews. January, 2015.

Recent Invited Talks

“‘The Best and Cheapest Way to Get Rid of Them’: Philanthropy, Economy, and the Politics of Exclusion in Indian Country,” McNeil Center for Early American Studies, The Center Seminar Series


“The Society of Friends, Early U.S. Indian Policy, and the Making of American Empire,” Haverford College


Recent Conference Presentations:

 “Diplomacy and the Negotiation of American Empire in Indian Country,” American Society for Ethnohistory Annual Conference


“Speculative Philanthropy, Indigenous Dispossession, and the Making of American Empire,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting


“Philanthropy and Profit in Indian Country,” Omohundro Institute Annual Conference


“‘A Damnd Rebelious Race’: Negotiating ‘Civilization’ Policies in the Ohio Country,” Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Annual Meeting


“‘Of Mercy and of Sound Policy Too’: Philanthropy and Empire in the Early Republic,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic


“‘Of Mercy and of Sound Policy Too’: Indian Removal and the Cultivation of American Empire,” Empires of Charity Workshop, University of Warwick, UK


“’A damned rebelious race’: The U.S. ‘Civilization’ Plan and Native Authority,” Quakers and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st Century, McNeil Center for Early American Studies


“‘We are upon our own Business’: Hendrick Aupaumut and the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Power in the Early Republic,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting