Kristen T. Oertel, Ph.D. - The University of Tulsa
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Kristen T. Oertel, Ph.D.

Chair of History

Mary Frances Barnard Chair in 19th-Century American History


Kristen Oertel teaches classes on the Civil War and Reconstruction, African-American history, the history of race and gender in America, and the history of sexuality. She writes about how race and gender influenced social and cultural relations in the 19th century, especially during the Civil War era.

Her first book, Bleeding Borders, examines how Native Americans, African Americans and women shaped the conflict over slavery on the Kansas-Missouri border before the Civil War. Her second book, Frontier Feminist, narrates the life of Clarina Nichols, a remarkable woman who advocated for temperance, antislavery, and woman’s suffrage in the 19th century. Oertel’s most recent book, Harriet Tubman: Slavery, the Civil War, and Civil Rights in the 19th Century, is a short, accessible biography that chronicles the life of this iconic leader of the Underground Railroad. Oertel’s current research focuses on the history of slavery and Black resistance in Indian Territory from 1830-1861.

Awards and Honors

2023 NEH Initiatives Grant; 2022 Outstanding Teacher Award, The University of Tulsa; 2016 Medicine Wheel Award, The University of Tulsa; 2011 Armitage-Jameson Book Prize from the Council of Western Women’s Historians


  • Ph.D., University of Texas
  • M.A., SUNY-Binghamton
  • B.A., Cornell College

Research interests and areas of expertise

  • History of slavery and abolition
  • Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Sexuality