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Brenda Jackson-Abernathy

Dr. Brenda Jackson-Abernathy

I am a transplanted Westerner and grew up in Idaho and California. I earned my B.A. and M.A. degrees at San Jose State University in California, and my doctorate at Washington State University in Pullman, under the tutelage of my hero, Sue Armitage, a pioneer in western women's history. I taught at San Jose State University, Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and Gonzaga University before joining the History faculty at Belmont in the fall of 2003.  I teach 18th and 19th century U.S. history courses, as well as courses on Latin American history and Women's history.  I also teach the History Department's Junior-level research and writing course and a Learning Communities course with the Biology Department on “The Wild West.”  I am the author of Domesticating the West. The Re-creation of the Nineteenth-Century American Middle Class (Nebraska, 2005), and currently working on a number of projects pertaining to the effect of the Civil War, occupation, and Reconstruction on Tennessee women.

I am an avid sports fan and grew up watching the Oakland A's and Raiders during their glory years.  I was privileged - though didn't know it then - to attend World Series and NFL playoff games in Oakland.  My husband is a Tennessee grad and we regularly travel to Knoxville to cheer on the Vols (though the Pac-12 will always be first in my heart - GO COUGS!) We have two “almost-grown” daughters and are very involved in their interests and activities, attend the symphony and theater as often as time permits, and enjoy traveling, and particularly visiting historic sites.

I love history - and have since I was a little girl.  I love teaching history and helping students understand there is much more to its study than the memorization of names and dates.  My goal is for students to understand the world around them - and the best way to do that is to study history.  "Understanding" doesn't necessarily mean "agreeing with" - a hard lesson for students to learn, but once they do - the world is their oyster!  As the great philosopher Aristotle wrote, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Think about it - and take a history class!!

Selected Recent Publications and Presentations

“Methods in Teaching Region and Diversity in U.S. Western Women’s History,” The History Teacher 46:2 (February 2013): 215-230


“The Civil War Diaries of William Lawrence and Kate Carney: A Research Note on Under-Utilized Sources,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 73:1 (Spring 2014): 52-73.


The Wide Northwest, by Leoti L. West. New Introduction by Brenda K. Jackson. 1st edition, Spokane, WA: Shaw & Borden, 1927; reprint ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 


Domesticating the West: The Re-Creation of the Nineteenth-Century American Middle Class, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 


“Interruption of the Even ‘tenor of our way’”: Middle Tennessee Women in Occupation and Reconstruction,” Southern Association of Women Historians Triennial Conference, Charleston, SC, June 2015


“’For the Sake of the Cotton!’ PlantationWomen in 1864 Civil War Louisiana,” Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 2015