Laura F. Edwards

Laura F. Edwards

Peabody Family Distinguished Professor of History in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

External address: 
333 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
(919) 668-1435


My research focuses on women, gender, and the law in the nineteenth-century, particularly the U.S. South. In addition to articles on these topics, I have published four books: A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction:  A Nation of Rights (2015); The People and Their Peace: Legal Culture and the Transformation of Inequality in the Post-Revolutionary South (2009); Scarlett Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era (2000); and Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction (1997).  The People and Their Peace was awarded the Charles Sydnor Prize for the best book in southern history by the Southern Historical Association and the Littleton-Griswold Prize for the best book in American Law and Society by the American Historical Association.  I have received fellowships from the American Bar Foundation,the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Newberry Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution.  I am now working on a new book project, Only the Clothes on Her Back:  Textiles, Law, and Commerce in the Nineteenth Century United States.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 1991

  • M.A., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 1987

  • B.A., Northwestern University 1985

Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Visiting Neukom Fellows Chair in Diversity and Law awarded by American Bar Foundation, (2016 to 2017)

Mellon Research Fellowship awarded by The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, (2014)

Guggenheim Fellowship awarded by John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (2012 to 2013)

Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship awarded by National Humanities Center (2007 to 2008)

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities awarded by The Newberry Library (2006 to 2007)

NEH Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (2000 to 2001)

Research Fellow awarded by American Center for Politics and Public Policy (1998 to 1999)

Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by National Museum of American History (1995)

Edwards, L. F. “Emancipation and its consequences.” A Companion to the American South, 2007, pp. 269–83. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9780470996300.ch16. Full Text

Edwards, L. F. “The People’s Sovereignty and the Law: Defining Gender, Race, and Class Differences in the Antebellum South.” Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the United States South and Southwest, edited by S. Cole, Arlington, Texas: University of Texas Press for the University of Texas, Arlington, 2004, pp. 3–34.

Edwards, L. F. “Women, Gender, and Labor.” The Blackwell Companion to 19th Century America, edited by William L. Barney and William L. Edwards, LF, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Limited, 2001, pp. 223–37.

Edwards, L. F. “Women and Domestic Violence in Nineteenth-Century North Carolina.” Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History, edited by M. Bellesiles, New York University Press, 1999, pp. 115–36.

Edwards, L. F. “Captives of Wilmington: The Riot and Historical Memories of Political Conflict, 1865-1898.” Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy, edited by Timothy B. Tyson and David S. Cecelski, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998, pp. 113–41.

Edwards, L. F. “U.S. Women’s History.” Encyclopedia of Social History, New York: Garland, 1994, pp. 775–77.


Edwards, L. F. “Enslaved Women and the Law: The Paradoxes of Subordination in the Post-Revolutionary Carolinas.” Slavery & Abolition, vol. 26, Aug. 2005, pp. 305–23.

Edwards, L. F. “Law, Domestic Violence, and the Limits of Patriarchal Authority in the Antebellum South.” Journal of Southern History, vol. 65, Nov. 1999, pp. 733–70.

Edwards, L. F. “The Problem of Dependency: African Americans, Labor Relations, and the Law in the Nineteenth-Century South.” Agricultural History, vol. 72, 1998, pp. 313–40.

Edwards, L. F. “The disappearance of Susan Daniel and Henderson Cooper: Gender and narratives of political conflict in the reconstruction-era U.S. South.” Feminist Studies, vol. 22, no. 2, Jan. 1996, pp. 363–86. Scopus, doi:10.2307/3178419. Full Text

Edwards, L. F. “Sexual Violence, Gender, Reconstruction, and the Extension of Patriarchy in Granville County, North Carolina.” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 68, 1991, pp. 237–60.

Edwards, L. F. “Textiles: Popular Culture and the Law.” Buffalo Law Review, vol. 64, no. January 2015, The Buffalo Law Review, pp. 193–214.

Edwards, L. F. “"The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming Our Relationship to Rights and the Federal Government".” Insights in Law and Society, vol. 17, no. Winter 2017, pp. 4–10.