Robert Michael Morrissey

Profile picture for Robert Michael Morrissey

Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright Street
M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801

Associate Professor


Bob Morrissey specializes in the history of early America and the Atlantic world, American frontier and borderlands history, ethnohistory, and environmental history.  His first book tells the story of French colonists and Native peoples of the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The book is entitled, "Empire by Collaboration: Indians, Colonists, and Governments in the Colonial Illinois Country, and it appears in the Early American Studies Series from University of Pennsylvania Press.  His next project is entitled "The Illinois and the Edge Effect: People, Environment, and Power in the Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands."  It is a study of the relationship between people and non-human nature in one of North America's most distinctive ecological and social frontiers from 1200 to 1850.  It is supported by fellowships by the Illinois Center for Advanced Study and from the National Endowment for the Humanities. An article from this project entitled "Climate, Ecology, and History in North America’sTallgrass Prairie Borderlands" is forthcoming in the journal Past & Present.

In 2018-2020, Bob will be the Mellon Faculty Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, where he will lead an interdisciplinary team in programming, research, and curriculum development. In 2016-17, Bob was Helen Corley Petit Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. From 2016-2021, he is a Conrad Humanities Scholar in LAS.

Outside of his work as a professor, Bob is chapter advisor for the Evans Scholar House at Illinois. He also helps to organize the Society of Colonial Wars' Colonial America Lecture Series at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Research Interests

U.S. Colonial
Atlantic World
Environmental History
Native American History


MA, M.Phil, PhD, Yale University
BA Carleton College, Northfield MN

Courses Taught

History 570a: Problems in U.S. History to 1830
History 570b: Global Environmental History
History 170/171: U.S. History to 1877
History 202: American Environmental History
History 370: Colonial America
History 371: The American Revolution
History 200: Natives and Newcomers in Early America

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, Program in Medieval Studies

Honors & Awards

Conrad Humanities Scholar, 2016-2021
Helen Corley Petit Scholar, 2016-17
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015-16
Illinois Center for Advanced Study Fellowship, 2015
George and Gladys Queen Excellence in Teaching Award, Department of History, University of Illinois, 2014-2015
Lester J. Cappon Award for Best Article in William and Mary Quarterly for "Kaskaskia Social Network"
IPRH (Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities) Prize for Best Faculty Research, 2012

Highlighted Publications

Morrissey, R. M. (2015). Empire by Collaboration: Indians, Colonists, and Governments in Colonial Illinois Country. ( Early American Studies). University of Pennsylvania Press.

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Morrissey, R. M. (2019). Climate, Ecology and History in North America's Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands. Past and Present, 245(1), 39-77.

Morrissey, R. M. (2018). Le Pays des Illinois Finds its Context: The Early History of Illinois in a Continental Perspective. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 111(1-2), 9-30.

Morrissey, R. M. (2017). Clarence W. Alvord: The Illinois Historical Survey and the invention of local history. In F. E. Hoxie (Ed.), The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation (pp. 103-109). University of Illinois Press.

Morrissey, R. M. (Guest ed.), & Wilson, R. I. (Guest ed.) (2016). Environmental Humanities from Below. Resilience: Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 3, 1-434.

Morrissey, R. M., & Wilson, R. I. (2016). Introduction: Grassroots History: Global Environmental Histories from Below. Resilience: Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 3, 1-13.

View all publications on Illinois Experts