J. Jacob Calhoun

PhD Candidate

Field & Specialties

African American History
19th/20th c. U.S. History
Slavery and Emancipation
History of Public Health


M. A., University of Virginia
M. A., University of Maryland- College Park
B. A., Loyola University New Orleans


Jacob Calhoun is a historian of African American History, U.S. History, and the History of Slavery and Emancipation. He received his BA with Honors at Loyola Universtiy New Orleans in 2016, and from there completed an MA in History at the University of Maryland- College Park after defending his thesis, "Cultivating Politics: The Formation of a Black Body Politic in the Postemancipation Louisiana Sugar Parishes."

In 2020, he received an MA in History from the University of Virginia after successfully producing and defending his Master's Essay "Canonniers and Cane Knives: The Violence of Black Citizenship and the Donaldsonville Incident of 1870." "Canonniers and Cane Knives" explores how freedpeople wielded military pageantry and force to successfully defend democracy in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, during the height of Reconstruction. 

Currently, Jake is working toward the completion of his dissertation titled "Reconstruction through Rifles: The Role of Violence in Black Americans’ Fight for Liberty in the Postemancipation Era." Building upon his previous work, this project exmaines Black Americans' careful and effective use of force to protect their liberties and withstand the anti-democratic violence of white terrorists. He also works as a researcher on behalf of the Memory Project at UVA, uncovering the history of the Charlottesville slave trade.

When not researching or writing, he can most often be found spending time with his family: Rosie and Gumbo!



“The Black Lawmen of Reconstruction,” Nau Center for Civil War History, University of Virginia, June 13, 2023.

Book Review of The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality by Anna Lisa Cox, Indiana Magazine of History 118, no. 4 (December 2022).

Book Review of The Women’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation by Thavolia Glymph, Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 62, no. 2 (Spring 2021): 240-24.

Awards & Honors

Bradley Fellow of the Nau Center of Civil War Studies 2022

J. Carl Sewell Graduate Fellow of Civil War History 2022

John L. Nau III History and Principles of Democracy Lab Graduate Fellow 2021-2022