Caroline West

Graduate Student

Caroline West studies the history of social welfare, with interests in its racial politics, evolving administration, and imbrications with the evolution of American capitalism. Her research focuses on her home region, the South, as a site where the question of what society owes to its neediest citizens has been particularly enmeshed in broader debates about the contours of social, economic, and political belonging, the value of work, the meaning of freedom, and the ability, virtue, and industriousness of particular racial and ethnic groups. In considering how obligations to the poor have been conceived from the postbellum era through the early New Deal, Caroline’s work examines how the administrators of welfare have imagined the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, how they have managed the new inclusion of particular racial groups into the public charge, and the discretionary power they have maintained in keeping the relief of destitution a privilege, not a right.

Before coming to Princeton, Caroline received her MPhil in American History from King’s College in the University of Cambridge and her B.A. in Sociology and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. 

Year of Study
Second Year
Area of Interest
African American
History & Public Policy
History of Capitalism
History of the State(s)
Labor History
Political History
Race & Ethnicity
Rural History
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
19th Century
20th Century
American South
United States