Research Affiliate: Anne Kelly Knowles

Currently: Professor in the History Department, University of Maine

Anne Kelly Knowles worked in book publishing for eight years before discovering historical geography and going to graduate school at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her MSc and PhD in Geography. Her graduate research, published as Calvinists Incorporated: Welsh Immigrants on Ohio’s Industrial Frontier (1997), examined how Welsh farmers’ religious beliefs and ethnic identity influenced their engagement with American industrial capitalism in the mid-nineteenth century. Having learned Welsh for that project, in 1993 she joined the faculty of the Institute of Earth Studies at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to teach geography mainly in Welsh. She moved back to the States for a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow position at Wellesley College and began her second major project, a study of the delayed technological development of the American iron industry. That work, supported by fellowships from NEH and ACLS, was published in Mastering Iron: The Struggle to Modernize an American Industry (2013). Meanwhile, Knowles became a leading advocate and practitioner of using GIS (geographic information systems) for history. She edited two of the first books on historical GIS, Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (2002) and Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008). In 2007, she joined Alberto Giordano and Tim Cole in organizing the interdisciplinary research group now called the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative. Knowles was lead editor of the group’s first book, Geographies of the Holocaust (2014). Her innovative scholarship was recognized in 2012 by the first annual American Ingenuity Award for Historical Scholarship from Smithsonian magazine. In 2015 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her continuing exploration of the geographical dimensions and meanings of the Holocaust. 

Selected Publications

  • Co-edited with Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano Geographies of the Holocaust (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014) 
  • Mastering Iron: The Struggle to Modernize an American Industry (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013)
  • Edited Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (Redlands: ESRI Press, 2008)

Online Profile