Riley Sutherland


Harvard University


Dr. Jane Kamensky

Academic Interests:

U.S. Military History
The American War for Independence
Social Military History
Women’s History
Public History
Archival Theory
Memory Studies
Digital Humanities


In Her Possession and Keeping: Revolutionary War Widows and the Politics of Family Archives, 1820-1850

Bio Note:

Riley Sutherland is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University. She earned her B.A. in History, American Studies, and Memory (2022) and her M.A. in U.S. History (2023) from the University of South Carolina. She is interested in the women’s history, archives, memory, and state-building.

Her undergraduate research recenters Continental Army women as essential workers and labor agitators. It considers how the women used social networks to support and subvert military order, how they leveraged these networks (and the pension application process) to shape local memory of the war, and how early nineteenth-century literature changed the women’s place in historical memory. Sutherland is currently studying how Revolutionary War widows deployed family archives as partisan tools to claim pensions. She is especially interested in the ways widow pension applicants excited broader nineteenth-century debates over tariffs, federal fiscal apparatuses, and executive powers. 

Riley is also interested in public history and currently works with the Salus Populi Pension Project, a digital editing and community history project that aims to transcribe, contextualize, and visualize Missouri United States Colored Troops (USCT) pension files. 

Updated June 2023

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