Kate Grandjean

Associate Professor of History

Historian of early American and Native American history, English colonialism and cultural encounters, environmental history, and violence in American history.

Katherine Grandjean holds a B.A. in History from Yale University and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Her research explores early English colonization and the encounter with Native peoples, as well as the origins of American violence. Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Historical Association, and the Charles Warren Center for American History, and has appeared in such journals as the William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, and Early American Studies. A recent essay, “New World Tempests: Environment, Scarcity, and the Coming of the Pequot War,” won the American Society for Environmental History's 2012 Alice Hamilton Prize for Best Article and the William and Mary Quarterly’s 2014 Douglass Adair Memorial Award.

She recently published her first book, American Passage: The Communications Frontier in Early New England. The book retells the story of early New England's settling, through the dark, confused world of communication. Who could travel where, who controlled the routes winding through the woods, who dictated what news might be sent—These questions, in American Passage, reveal a new dimension of contest and conquest in early America. Upcoming articles will explore Native resistance to European colonization, as well as the folklore and artifacts surrounding American memory of the colonial period. She is also at work on a new book on violence and murder in eighteenth-century North America.

At Wellesley, Professor Grandjean teaches courses on colonial American history, Native American history, the history of American food, and the history of violence and terror in early America.


HIST114 First Year Seminar: American Hauntings

HIST203 Out of Many: American History to 1877

HIST253 First Peoples: An Introduction to Native American History

HIST256 Brave New Worlds: Colonial American History and Culture

HIST260 Pursuits of Happiness: America in the Age of Revolution

HIST262 The Life and Political World of Alexander Hamilton

HIST319 Seminar: Fear and Violence in Early America

HIST320 Seminar: The Hand that Feeds: A History of American Food

HIST321 Seminar: Convicted: Crime and Punishment in Early America


  • B.A., Yale University
  • Ph.D., Harvard University

Current and upcoming courses

  • The American past is crowded with ghosts. In this seminar, we will trace the evolution of supernatural belief in America and analyze some of its most famous ghost stories. What about the nation’s history makes it such fertile terrain for ghosts? What happens when the dead refuse to stay in the past, relegated to history? Why, in short, is the American historical imagination so haunted? We’ll dig deeply into selected hauntings, drawn from across historical North America, and encounter the spirits of French Detroit, the Gettysburg battlefield, and colonial Jamaica, among others.