Gretchen A. Adams

Associate Professor - U.S. Political and Cultural History to 1877, Memory


Ph.D., University of New Hampshire


Dr. Adams’ primary teaching and research interests are in both the real and perceived legacy of British colonial rule over what later became the United States. This lingering cultural memory of colonial rule pervades print and oratory from the Revolution forward to present day. Adams’ central interest is the political context of these symbolic representations of events and individuals in the colonial historical record and how they are used. In different moments they are recalled, recast, and re-imagined to persuade, unite and exclude Americans from the mainstream of American life. At TTU since 2002, she teaches courses on the early national period of U.S. History, topics in History and Memory, and Historical Methods and Historiography. Professor Adams was tenured and promoted in 2008. She has published numerous articles and encyclopedia essays related to her research. Her most recent major publications are:

  • The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Chicago Press, Fall 2008). ISBN: 0-226-00541-0
  • “’Pictures of the Vicious ultimately overcome by misery and shame:’ The Cultural Work of Early National Schoolbooks,” in Children and Youth in a New Nation, ed. James Marten (New York University Press, January 2009). ISBN: 0-814-75749-9
  • In 2009, Dr. Adams completed six years work as an associate editor on an international team of scholars who produced the first complete, annotated collection of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials legal records: Associate Editor, The Records of the Salem Witch Hunt, (Cambridge University Press, January 2009). ISBN-13: 9-780-52166-166-9 [Awarded a National Historical Publications and Records Commission subvention grant endorsement in May 2004.]

She is currently completing research on a monograph concerned with the concept of “treason” in the Anglo-American imagination from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries and two chapters for forthcoming edited volumes on American “history and memory.”

Professor Adams has received grant and resident fellowship funding for her research from institutions that include Brown University, the American Historical Association, the Boston Athenaeum, the American Antiquarian Society, the University of Glasgow, Smith College, and the Virginia Historical Society. At TTU she was awarded an “Alumni Association New Faculty Award” in 2004, a Humanities Initiative Grant in 2006, and a Gloria Lyerla Library Travel Grant in 2008.

As Senior Editor of the William F. Cody Papers since 2008, along with Dr. Douglas Seefeldt at the University of Nebraska, she continues her interest in scholarly editing. Dr. Adams directs the compilation and preparation of the personal and professional documents of the nineteenth-century showman and entrepreneur by eight Associate Editors located at U.S. and European universities. In 2010 the project will produce two volumes with the University of Nebraska Press, and launch a major portion of its digital archive.

Professor Adams has presented papers related to her research at the annual meetings of the American Historical Association, the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, the Newberry Library, and a variety of other professional meetings and seminars in the United States and Europe. Her book reviews have appeared in journals that include: The Canadian Historical Review, The New England Quarterly, H-Net, “Commonplace,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History and the Southwest Historical Quarterly. Dr. Adams is also active in departmental and university service and in a number of professional organizations. She currently serves on the national conference committee for the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, has recently been a grant reviewer for the U.S. Dept. of Education, and is organizing a conference in Scotland for the summer of 2010.

Published Works

The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America

The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America by Dr. Gretchen Adams

In The Specter of Salem, Gretchen A. Adams reveals the many ways that the Salem witch trials loomed over the American collective memory from the Revolution to the Civil War and beyond. Schoolbooks in the 1790s, for example, evoked the episode to demonstrate the new nation’s progress from a disorderly and brutal past to a rational present, while critics of new religious movements in the 1830s cast them as a return to Salem-era fanaticism, and during the Civil War, southerners evoked witch burning to criticize Union tactics. Shedding new light on the many, varied American invocations of Salem, Adams ultimately illuminates the function of collective memories in the life of a nation.

Learn more at Amazon.com.

Children and Youth in a New Nation

Children and Youth in a New Nation by Dr. Gretchen Adams

In the early years of the Republic, as Americans tried to determine what it meant to be an American, they also wondered what it meant to be an American child. A defensive, even fearful, approach to childhood gave way to a more optimistic campaign to integrate young Americans into the Republican experiment.

In Children and Youth in a New Nation, historians unearth the experiences of and attitudes about children and youth during the decades following the American Revolution. Beginning with the revolution itself, the contributors explore a broad range of topics, from the ways in which American children and youth participated in and learned from the revolt and its aftermaths, to developing notions of "ideal" childhoods as they were imagined by new religious denominations and competing ethnic groups, to the struggle by educators over how the society that came out of the Revolution could best be served by its educational systems. The volume concludes by foreshadowing future "child-saving" efforts by reformers committed to constructing adequate systems of public health and child welfare institutions.

Rooted in the historical literature and primary sources, Children and Youth in a New Nation is a key resource in our understanding of origins of modern ideas about children and youth and the conflation of national purpose and ideas related to child development.

Learn more at Amazon.com.

Records of the Salem Witch Hunt

The Records of the Salem Witch Hunt - Gretchen Adams, Associate Editor

This book represents the first comprehensive record of all legal documents pertaining to the Salem witch trials, in chronological order. Numerous newly discovered manuscripts, as well as records published in earlier books that were overlooked in other editions, offer a comprehensive narrative account of the events of 1692-93, with supplementary materials stretching as far as the mid - 18th century. The book may be used as a reference book or read as an unfolding narrative. All legal records are newly transcribed, and errors in previous editions have been corrected. Included in this edition is a historical introduction, a legal introduction, and a linguistic introduction. Manuscripts are accompanied by notes that, in many cases, identify the person who wrote the record. This has never been attempted, and much is revealed by seeing who wrote what, when.

Learn more at Amazon.com.

Contact Information:

Email: Gretchen.Adams@ttu.edu
Office: 55 Holden Hall