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Melissa N. Morris

Assistant Professor of History


Dr. Melissa N. Morris is a historian of early America and the Atlantic World whose research is centered on the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Melissa is particularly interested in the cross-cultural interactions that defined colonial encounters, the role of plants in driving European expansion, the dissemination of geographic and agricultural knowledge, and colonial failures in the Americas. She completed her PhD in history at Columbia University in 2017. Before coming to UW, she taught at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

Dr. Morris’s current book project, “Cultivating Colonies: Tobacco and the Upstart Empires, 1580-1660,” considers how tobacco helped the Dutch, English, and French establish empires in the Americas. It looks in particular at how Europeans relied upon indigenous and Spanish assistance to learn to cultivate tobacco, a crop they grew in nearly all their early colonies. Happily, much of the research for this project was done in London, Amsterdam, Seville, and Paris.


Research Interests

Colonial America; Atlantic World; Environmental History; Cross-Cultural Interactions; Comparative Empires in the Americas


Course Offerings

Historical Methods

U.S. History to 1865

Colonial America

America in an Early Modern World

A Botanical History of European Expansion

Revolutionary America



  History Bldg, room 351




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