Rachel Smith Purvis is the newest recipient of the Cassius Marcellus Clay Fellowship from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. She recently defended her dissertation, “‘Maintaining intact our homogeneousness’: Race, Citizenship, & Reconstructing Cherokee.” Purvis’s dissertation examines the rebirth of the Cherokee Nation after the Civil War emphasizing the intersection of race, citizenship, and nationalism in the postwar period. The history of the Cherokee Nation in the tumultuous era following the Civil War contributes an alternative story of Reconstruction to the current scholarship, one that expands the typical timeframe and geographic scope of previous studies.
Purvis’s research interests include the history of Native Americans, specifically Southeastern Indians, as well as nineteenth-century America, race, slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and Reconstruction. She is currently working on expanding her project into a manuscript for publication.