Kevin Butterfield

Email: | Phone: 325-2234 | Office: CARN 219| Full CV

Research interests

The focus of my research is on the history of the early American republic. I have devoted most of my energy lately to exploring the law and practice of voluntary association in the sixty or so years following the American Revolution. In groups ranging from moral reform societies to reading clubs to labor unions, ordinary men and women gained experience in constitutional self-government, and I have explored their evolving understandings of the meanings and the legal consequences of voluntary membership.


“A Common Law of Membership: Expulsion, Regulation, and Civil Society in the Early Republic,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 133 (2009): 255-275.

“Puritans and Religious Strife in the Early Chesapeake,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 109 (2001): 5-36.


Originally from Kansas City, I became interested in the study of history for the first time while a student at the University of Missouri. Following graduate study at the College of William and Mary, I opted to work in academic publishing rather than pursue a Ph.D. For five years, I acquired, copyedited, proofread, and even indexed other people’s manuscripts, until I decided that I might have some ideas of my own. I completed my Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis and came to OU in 2010.