Modern America Workshop - “The Border Line and the Color Line: The Strange Career of W. H. Ellis”

Modern America Workshop
Event date: 
February 13, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Karl Jacoby
Columbia University
Seminar Series: 
Modern America Workshop
Co-Sponsored by: 
Program in American Studies

“The Border Line and the Color Line: The Strange Career of W. H. Ellis”
Prof. Karl Jacoby, Columbia University

There is a pre-circulated, password-protected paper for this workshop. To receive the password for this workshop, email Jennifer Loessy at This event is free and open to the public.

Karl Jacoby is Professor of History at Columbia University. Jacoby specializes in using small, carefully crafted tales to address some of the largest issues in American history, from the role of the environment in shaping human power relations to the challenges of representing the profound violence experienced by North America’s indigenous peoples. In his latest work, Jacoby brings to life the story of an elusive figure known variously as W. H. Ellis, Guillermo Ellis, and Guillermo Enrique Eliseo.  As Jacoby peels away the layers of mystery surrounding Ellis/Eliseo, he reveals a long-ignored history of slavery and emancipation, racial mixing and racial segregation that spans the U.S.-Mexico border.  The result is a study that casts into sharp relief the intimate entangling across national boundaries that have rendered Mexico and the U.S. inseparable elements of a shared North American history.

The Modern America Workshop is a seminar series for Princeton students and faculty interested in the study of modern U.S. history. The series brings together Americanists to share scholarship, present student and faculty research, and discuss problems and trends in American history. The workshop is being organized during the 2016-2017 academic year by Teal Arcadi, Julia Grummitt, Connor Mills, Ray Thornton, and David Walsh.

Area of Interest: 
African American
United States
19th Century