• African American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Public History, Digital Humanities


  • B.A., African American and Diaspora Studies, Vanderbilt University 2015
  • M.A., Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies, George Washington University, 2017


Yelana Sims is a Ph.D. candidate in Afro-American Studies. Her dissertation focuses on Black female sex workers’ historic interactions and experiences with technology and how these interactions facilitated agency and entrepreneurship-minded action. Throughout her time as a graduate student, she has placed an emphasis on the historical acknowledgment of marginalized groups, specifically women of color, and their experiences in the United States. 

While a graduate student here at UMass Amherst, Yelana has cultivated an interest in both Digital Humanities and Public History as methods and paths of practice. Via courses like Digital Cultural Studies with Dr. TreaAndrea Russworm and Intro to Archiving with Sarah Pratt from Simmons University, Yelana has found a focused interest in the history of marginalized communities’ interactions and world-building with technology. She hopes to lean into Public History and Digital Humanities as methods of highlighting and sharing the historical experiences of women of color in new and inventive ways.  

Yelana is currently working on her dissertation as well as a digital humanities-based review of academic publications’ diversity in terms of authorship and subject material. When not researching or writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and hand embroidery.