Sean Fraga is a historian of the North American West, focused on connections between technology, mobility, the environment, and social change. His broader interests include empire, settler colonialism, borders and borderlands, and urbanism. He received a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, with distinction in the major, and holds an M.A. and Ph.D., both in History, from Princeton University. His book project, Ocean Fever, which is under contract with Yale University Press for publication in the Lamar Series in Western History, argues that Americans interested in trade with Asia used steam technology to shape the Puget Sound region as a maritime commercial center.
At Princeton, Fraga served as the Graduate History Association’s professional development officer, as coordinator for both the Modern America Workshop and the Colonialism and Imperialism Workshop, and as a graduate student mentor. Along with Julia Grummitt and Kimia Shahi, Fraga co-organized "Water and the Making of Place in North America," the 2016 Princeton American Studies graduate student conference.
In addition to traditional archival research, Fraga uses digital history tools to illuminate non-narrative sources. As a postgraduate research associate with the Department of History and the Center for Digital Humanities, Fraga served as the principal investigator for "They Came on Waves of Ink: Pacific Northwest Maritime Trade at the Dawn of American Settlement, 1851–1861," which used archival U.S. Customs data to digitally map historical maritime trade networks in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Ocean.
Fraga’s research has taken him to more than a dozen archives across the United States and Canada. His work has been financially supported by numerous Princeton departments and programs, including the Department of History, Program in American Studies, Program in Canadian Studies, Center for Digital Humanities, and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, which awarded him a Dean’s Completion Fellowship. Beyond Princeton, his work has been supported by the Newberry Library, the Western History Association, and the North American Society for Oceanic History, among others.
He is currently a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program. More information is available on his website.