Kelly Kennington is a historian of slavery in the antebellum American South, with a particular focus on how enslaved persons interact with formal and informal systems of law.

Research Interests:

  • African American history; history of the American South; legal history; U.S. history from the colonial period until 1865.

Kennington is currently researching two book-length projects. The first is a study of the domestic slave trade in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama, focusing on local legal regulations of the trade. The second project, currently titled The Mind of Susan Wray, weaves together themes of slavery, violence, sex, and insanity to tell the story of the plantation South through the life of one extraordinary woman.


  • U.S. History
  • Southern History
  • Race, Rights, and Inequalities
Women's Studies, History, Human Development
PhD, Duke University, 2009
MA, Duke University, 2004
BA, Tulane University, 2002
history of law social history american history