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LJ Woolcock

M.A. Candidate (they/them pronouns)

Fields: Early America, the Caribbean, Public History
Interests: History of slavery, Atlantic history, Urban history, Archives

Portrait of LJ Woolcock

My work as a scholar has been eclectic. As an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh I trained as a medievalist, researching the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th and 14th centuries and the mixture of pagan and Christian cultures as it was expanding through military conquest and its “official conversion” to Christianity. My research examined how Christians incorporated a growing knowledge of Lithuania as a pagan empire into their worldview by relating it to classical antiquity, which I published in a 2014 journal article, “Virgil in Lithuania: Francesco Petrarch’s Interactions with Paganism in the 14th Century.” I also worked for a year in the University's Special Collections department, igniting a passion for the way that rare books and archives can connect people with the past. 

Since entering graduate school my work has primarily focused on early American history from an Atlantic perspective. I research the history of slavery in colonial and early national Charleston, South Carolina, exploring how white elites deliberately shaped the urban fabric to control the enslaved and asking how we can imagine enslaved women's experiences of urban enslavement by looking at the city's streets, buildings, and social landscape. Part of this work is my current Twitter project, @HistOnTheGround, where I pair archival research with urban exploration to show how cities have changed over time. 

During my time at UMass I've also continued to work in archives and special collections through my public history coursework. In spring 2018 I interned at Mount Holyoke College’s Special Collections and Archives, and in summer 2018 at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, interning for the Adams Papers documentary editing project. 

Following my Master’s I plan to enter the workforce, but will continue my own research in preparation for a doctoral program in the coming years.