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DresslerNicole Dressler

Ph.D. Program

Fields: Early America, British Empire, U.S. Law & Society      

Advisor:   Aaron Fogleman   


Nicole Dressler is a Ph.D. candidate in Northern Illinois University's History Department specializing in early America, with research interests in labor and the history of humanitarianism. Her dissertation explores the role that British convict transportation and penal servitude in America played in the early history of humanitarianism, arguing that emerging ideas of punishment, morality and unfreedom evoked by convict labor created new moral responsibilities and inspired novel denunciations of suffering in the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Anglo-American world. It is tentatively titled, “The ‘Vile Commodity’: Criminal Servitude, Authority, and the Rise of Humanitarianism in the Anglo-American World, 1718-1820.” She is a recipient of the 2016-2017 Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Dissertation Fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Publications and Selected Presentations:

  • With Aaron Spencer Fogleman. “Criminal Transportation in the Atlantic World.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History. Ed. Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • Book Review: Gwenda Morgan and Peter Rushton, Banishment in the Early Atlantic World:  Convicts, Rebels and Slaves (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 82:4 (Autumn 2015): 556-559.
  • With Ian M. Burns, “His ‘Perfect Pitch for Integrity’: Northern Illinois University Conference Honors Alfred F. Young,” Uncommon Sense 132 (Winter/Spring 2013-2014).
  • “The ‘Most Humane and Effectual Punishment We Have’: Moral Sentiment and the Eighteenth-Century British Convict Trade,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, High Point, North Carolina, February 21, 2015.

Grants, Fellowships, and Awards:

  • The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2016-2017
  • The Large Grant, Northern Illinois University Department of History, 2016 
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award for 2015-2016
  • Earl W. Hayter and Alfred F. Young Endowment, Northern Illinois University Department of History, 2014
  • The Large Grant, Northern Illinois University Department of History, 2014
  • FUEL Assistantship Award, Northern Illinois University, 2013-2015


President of the Northern Illinois University History Graduate Student Association, 2014-2015