Fay Yarbrough 

Fay Yarbrough


Associate Professor of History

Email: fyarbrough@rice.edu  Phone: 713-348-2780 Office: Humanities 319



  • PhD:  Emory University 2003
  • MA:  Emory University 2000

Areas of Interest:

  • American Indian History
  • African American History
  • Southern History

Professor Yarbrough’s research interests focus on the native populations of the southeastern United States and Indian Territory during the nineteenth century.  She is particularly interested in the interactions between indigenous peoples and people of African descent.


Her first book Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century explores the complex relationship between the construction of sexual boundaries and the formation of tribal and racial identities.  The study analyzes how Cherokee lawmakers used marriage laws to construct conceptions of race and gender in the face of Jackson’s Indian policies and how the Civil War and Reconstruction reconfigured the thinking of Cherokee legislators.


Professor Yarbrough also co-edited a collection of essays entitled Gender and Sexuality in the Indigenous Americas, 1400-1850 with Sandra Slater (College of Charleston).  The anthology addresses the question of how Europeans manipulated native ideas about gender for their own purposes and how indigenous people responded to European attempts to impose gendered cultural practices that clashed with native thinking.

Currently, Professor Yarbrough is working on a project that considers the participation of Choctaw Indians in the American Civil War.


Professor Yarbrough teaches courses on nineteenth-century American history.  In the past, she has offered courses such as the Civil War, the first half of the American history survey, and Nineteenth-Century Black Experience.


Selected Publications

Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century, University of

Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Gender and Sexuality in Indigenous North America, 1400-1850, co-editor with Sandra Slater,

University of South Carolina Press, 2011.


“From Kin to Intruder: Cherokee Legal Attitudes towards People of African Descent

in the Nineteenth Century,” Race and Science, edited by Hamilton Cravens and Paul

Farber for Oregon State University Press, 2009.

“Power, Perception, and Interracial Sex: Former Slaves Recall a Multiracial South,”

Journal of Southern History, August 2005.

“Legislating Women’s Sexuality: Cherokee Marriage Laws in the Nineteenth Century,”

Journal of Social History, Winter 2004.