Kabria Baumgartner is an award-winning public historian who researches and writes about the hidden, forgotten, and erased lived experiences of African-descended people in New England and the Atlantic world.
She is the Dean's Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Northeastern University where she also serves as Associate Director of Public History. She teaches classes on African American history, the history of New England, public history, and digital storytelling.
She is the author of In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America (New York University Press, 2019), which tells the stories of brave African American girls and women who fought to democratize private female seminaries and public high schools in the nineteenth-century Northeast. In Pursuit of Knowledge has won four book prizes including the prestigious 2021 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association; the 2021 American Educational Research Association Division F New Scholar's Book Award; the 2020 Mary Kelley Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic; and the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the History of Education Society.
Professor Baumgartner has collaborated with historical societies and organizations throughout New England including the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, Old North Church and Historic Site, Marblehead Museum, and the Essex National Heritage Area. She recently co-curated and co-wrote the exhibition Let None Be Excluded: The Origins of Equal School Rights in Salem at the Peabody Essex Museum with curator and librarian Dan Lipcan. The exhibit is now on view through April 2024. She is a founding member of the Newburyport Black History Initiative, a collaborative project that aims to highlight and incorporate Newburyport’s Black history more fully into the public landscape through historic interpretive signs, lectures, panel discussions and workshops, and other activities.
Professor Baumgartner has published a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on Black Studies and student activism, African American education, and the abolition movement. Her article, “Love and Justice: African American Women, Education, and Protest in Antebellum New England,” in the Journal of Social History (2019) received honorable mention for the 2019 Distinguished Essay Prize from the History of Education Society.
Her research has been supported by the Spencer Foundation; the Library Company of Philadelphia; the Massachusetts Historical Society; the American Antiquarian Society, where she is an elected member and currently a 2022-23 NEH Fellow; and the Peabody Essex Museum/Phillips Library. In 2016, Professor Baumgartner was selected as a Postdoctoral Fellow by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.
Before joining the faculty at Northeastern University, Professor Baumgartner taught at the University of New Hampshire, where she was named the 2019 Outstanding Assistant Professor. She also served as the inaugural Faculty Fellow for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts.
Professor Baumgartner has taught at both the College of Wooster and Amherst College. Prior to that, she earned a Ph.D. in African American Studies and a Certificate in Feminist Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a M.A. summa cum laude in African American Studies and B.A. cum laude in English from the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Baumgartner also studied at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, where she earned a Certificate in British Studies and learned conversational German.