Promoted to Associate Professor
Yvonne Pitts received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Iowa in 2006. She teaches in the History Department and is affiliated with American Studies and Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies programs at Purdue University. Her book, Family, Law, and Inheritance in America: A Social and Legal History of Nineteenth Century Kentucky was published in Summer 2013 by Cambridge University Press. It explores the tensions and contradictions in the standard of sanity required to write a valid will. Focusing on nineteenth century Kentucky as a legal and geographical border state, Professor Pitts examines questions of moral obligation, free will, and how ordinary people understood their most intimate relationships. Traversing the histories of property, disability, insanity, and women, it analyzes how ordinary people and legal elites understood family and used law to make claims on each other. Professor Pitts has published in the Journal of Women’s History. Her current research projects include exploring how legal capacity was a disputed standard antecedent to exercising the rights of a fully empowered citizen, which will appear as a book chapter in Law and Humanities in Nineteenth-Century America (Ashgate Press). She also is finishing an article on how early trans-Appalachian doctors established their medical authority by claiming expert knowledge about slaves’ bodies and diseases and through their understandings of practicing medicine in the west. Dr. Pitts is in the early stages of her next book manuscript that explores how property law evolved before and after the Civil War through nuisance and vice law, escheats, and land use. Toward that research, she recently has been awarded a Library Scholars Grant to study the U.S. military’s regulation of prostitution in Civil War era Nashville, Tennessee.
Professor Pitts has been recognized for her teaching effectiveness, receiving the Department of History’s inaugural Jon C. Teaford Faculty Teaching Award in 2011. In 2013 she was selected for a Teaching for Tomorrow Fellowship Award. On campus she is involved with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center and will co-teach a Study Abroad course in the Trans-Atlantic Histories of Sexualities in Summer 2014. She regularly teaches courses in U.S. constitutional history, the history of sexual regulation, race and the law, and American legal culture.