Jessica Millward

Institutional Affiliation 
Associate Professor of History, UC Irvine
Professional Bio 

Jessica Millward is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at UC Irvine. Dr. Millward's first book, Finding Charity’s Folk: Enslaved and Free Black women in Maryland was published last year as part of the Race in the Atlantic World series, Athens: University of Georgia Press. An award winning scholar and public historian, Millward is currently working on a book length project that discusses African American women's experiences with sexual assault and intimate partner violence through the long 19th century. Her scholarship has appeared in the Journal of African American History, the Journal of Women’s History, Frontiers and the Women’s History Review. Her research has been supported by the following: American Association of University Women; the Daughters of the Colonial Wars; the David Library of the American Revolution; the Maryland Historical Society; the Mellon Foundation; as well as the Organization of American Historians.

Dr. Millward is an advocate for ending violence against women. She holds a BA degree in History from the University of Utah; an MA degree in African American Studies from UCLA; as well as a PhD in History from UCLA.
Area of Expertise 

My scholarly expertise centers on US slavery, African American history, gender and the law. My first book highlights the experiences of enslaved Maryland women who negotiated for their own freedom, many of whom have been largely lost to history. I bring together African American social and gender history to provide a new means of using biography as a historical genre. My second book examines African American women in the decades after slavery. I am interested to know when African American women spoke out against intimate partner violence, violations against the Black body such as lynching’s or when they chose to respond to violence within the confines of their private spaces. Ultimately, I am interested in understanding their lives through the lens of survivor culture. Did they exist in a community of other victims of domestic violence? Did they make their experiences public or did they shroud them in secrecy? How did the violence manifest? This project represents a slight career shift as the majority of my research career has focused on enslaved and free black women prior to the Civil War. My goal is to offer perspectives on how African American women interpreted and survived their experiences with abuse.

Workshop Locations