About me

Christopher JonesI am a historian of religion, race, and slavery in early America and the Atlantic World. I completed a PhD in early American history at the College of William and Mary in 2016, and am currently a visiting assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University.

My book manuscript, “Methodism, Slavery, and Freedom in the Revolutionary Atlantic World,” is the first book-length study of early American Methodism throughout the Atlantic World. It traces the impressive growth of the movement in North America, the Caribbean, and West Africa and the subsequent racial and political strife that fractured the transatlantic Methodist community. Based on extensive research in more than two-dozen archives throughout the United States, England, Canada, and the Caribbean, the book provides fresh insight into the complicated intersections of religious, racial, and political identities in the Revolutionary Atlantic World.

I have also begun research on two exciting new projects: The first examines the failed Mormon mission to the Caribbean in 1853. The six missionaries who arrived in Jamaica in January 1853 only stayed on the island one month. Their mission was marked by conflict with local officials and few converts — when they returned to the United States in February, the missionaries had baptized just four individuals. Their interactions with black and white Jamaicans during their short stay on the island, however, serve as an important episode in the history of mission and empire and offer previously ignored insights into the development of early Mormonism’s racial theologies.

The second project is a microhistorical study of religion, family, and slavery in the eighteenth century Atlantic world. Drawing on scattered correspondence, church and court records, and a recently discovered manuscript memoir, I retrace the life of Dorcas Lillie, a thrice-widowed, slave-owning Quaker woman on the tiny West Indian island of Saint Croix. Her experiences raise important questions about what it meant to be the lone local member of a transnational religious community and provide a revealing portrait of the changing family dynamics, slave labor, and the nature of religious community on the margins of the Atlantic world.

My teaching likewise situates the history of early America in broader global contexts and emphasizes the transnational connections and conflicts that shaped Britain’s American colonies and the early United States. I take teaching seriously, and recognize it as a central part of my scholarly identity. I bring creativity to the classroom and utilize innovative pedagogy to help students both master the material of the course and develop critical thinking skills and the ability to use them outside of the classroom.

I also maintain an active online presence (@ccjones13). I am a founding member of The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History and have contributed to multiple digital history projects, including The American Yawp: A Free and Online, Collaboratively Built American Textbook, The American Converts Database, and the Transcribing Early American Manuscript Sermons project, where I am a founding editor.