Dr Ben Marsh

Reader in American History
+44 (0)1227 824175
Dr Ben Marsh


Dr Ben Marsh grew up in Oxfordshire, completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge (Downing College), and subsequently taught at Brunel University (2001-2), the University of Oxford, where he was a Lecturer in Colonial & Revolutionary American History (2002-4), and the University of Stirling in Scotland (2004-14). He joined the School of History at Kent in September 2014. 

He has featured on BBC Radio (including Witness, and The History Hour, on the Donner Party), given many talks and workshops to schools, museums and history societies, and is one of the lead historians for the Age of Revolution project which supports classroom learning on the period 1775-1848 with resources such as videos, podcasts, graphic novels and Top Trumps (which can be ordered for free and posted to UK schools). 

Between 2016 and 2018, Ben was the Director of Public Engagement for the Faculty of Humanities, a role intended to foster connections and collaborations between academics, their research, and wider audiences and communities beyond academia. 

Within the University, Ben is an affiliate of the Centre for American Studies, the Centre for Heritage, and the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies; he is also involved in work with colleagues in the The Centre for the Study of Global Cultures and Encounters, Animal Studies, and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben and his family shared some of their home-made music parody videos which went viral. If you wish to contact him about this, please contact email@marshfamilysongs.com and not his professional email.  

Research interests

Ben's main research interests are in the social and economic history of the Atlantic world c.1500-1820 and the settlement of early America, including gender and race history, the US South and slave societies, demography, the American Revolution, and, latterly, textile history. 

His first book, Georgia's Frontier Women (2007), explained how women's lives and experiences were central to the history and evolution of the colony of Georgia between the 1730s and 1790s. Ben co-edited a volume with Mike Rapport (University of Glasgow) on Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions, which is part of the Harvey Goldberg Series (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017).

His latest book, Unravelled Dreams: Silk and the Atlantic World, 1500-1840 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. It explores the intersections between political economy, utopianism, textile and commodity history, migration, and colonialism. The underpinning research was supported by an AHRC Research Fellowship in 2013 as well as smaller grants from the Pasold Textile Research Fund, the Carnegie Trust, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The book explains why, how, and with what success different regions of the Americas took on the challenge of sericulture. Aspects of the research was recognised through the award of the Natalie Rothstein Prize by the Textile Society (2014), and Ben featured as a consultant and guest on the 2013 BBC Radio 4 series Silk, presented by Steph McGovern. Ben's work on the topic featured in the international Enlightened Princesses exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art and Kensington Palace in 2017.

Ben is currently working towards three research projects and a public engagement initiative

  • a microhistory of an episode of geophagy (clay eating) among a community of Lutherans on the Savannah River in the mid 18th century, whose medical and racial circumstances point to one of the earliest acute hookworm infestations documentable in North America 
  • an exploration of Kent’s historic links to slavery and empire, some of which is forthcoming in a chapter co-authored with David Killingray in Maritime Kent, ed. Sheila Sweetinburgh, Elizabeth Edwards, and Stuart Blight (Boydell, 2021)
  • an exploration of the travails and rehabilitations of American loyalists during the Age of Revolutions
  • development of a ‘decolonial overlay’ digital tool that might support clearer and more nuanced understanding of heritage collections’ links to the legacies of empire and slavery 


Ben teaches on the Atlantic world, the American Revolution, and the rise of the United States.


Ben would be happy to field any questions or explore any potential postgraduate research topics that relate to his areas of expertise. He currently has research students working on topics including loyalism in revolutionary Georgia, terrorism during the imperial crisis, dark heritage and Salem, and perceptions of physiognomy expressed by Europeans and Native Americans in the long eighteenth century. 


Beyond the University, Ben is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a committee member of the Historical Association (Canterbury), a member of the Canterbury Heritage Forum and sits on the Educational Committee of Waterloo200. He is leading a student ambassador scheme as part of Waterloo200’s educational legacy that brings exposure to schools, museums, and heritage partners with interests in the Age of Revolutions, c1775-1848.

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