Department of History

Kelly Kennington

Kelly Kennington
Kelly Kennington Associate Professor
320B Thach Hall
(334) 844-7775
kmk0019@auburn.edu

Office Hours

  • Tuesday 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. (in RBD Library outside Panera)
  • Wednesday 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. (in RBD Library outside Panera)

Profile

Kelly Kennington is a historian of slavery in the antebellum American South, with a particular focus on how enslaved persons interact with formal and informal systems of law. Her first book, In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture of Slavery in Antebellum America ​​(University of Georgia Press, 2017), looks at the cases of enslaved men, women, and children who sued for freedom in St. Louis. Dr. Kennington uses these legal suits for freedom to trace the broader legal culture of St. Louis and to argue for the importance of enslaved people's participation in that legal culture.

Dr. Kennington is currently researching a book project on the legal regulation of the domestic slave trade, using Montgomery and Mobile as case studies. Tentatively titled Slavery, the Domestic Slave Trade, and Legal Culture in the Heart of Dixie, the book argues that local and state laws influenced the character of the domestic slave trade even as that trade influenced legal cultures of the region.  She is also involved in research into the history of slavery and its legacies at Auburn.

Dr. Kennington joined Auburn's history department in 2009 and began teaching at Auburn in the fall of 2010 after her year as the Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin's Law School. At Auburn, she teaches courses in the history of the South to 1877, American Slavery, and American Legal history, in addition to survey courses in World history and United States history to 1877.

Education

Ph.D. Duke University (2009)

M.A. Duke University (2004)

B.A. Tulane University (2002)

Representative Publications

Books:

In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture of Slavery in Antebellum America ​​(University of Georgia Press, 2017)

Blogs:

Guest Blogger, Legal History Blog, January 2018, http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2018/02/thank-you-kelly-kennington.html

Articles:

“‘To Favor the Side of Freedom’: Judicial Opinions and the Law of Slavery,” Slavery & Abolition, 40:2, June 2019, 225-239.

“Forum Introduction: Slavery, Freedom, and Law in the Civil War Era,” co-author Melissa Milewski, Slavery & Abolition, 40:2, June 2019, 219-222.

“Geography, Mobility, and the Law: Suing for Freedom in Antebellum St. Louis,” Journal of Southern History, August 2014, 575-604.

Last Updated: August 27, 2019