Faculty & Staff

photo of Conevery Valencius

Conevery Bolton Valencius, PhD

  • Associate Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts Undergraduate Program Director
  • Telephone: 617.287.6806
  • Office Location: McCormack Hall 4-627

Areas of Expertise

Professor Valencius writes and teaches about U.S. environmental history, the history of science and medicine, and the American Civil War. Her recent projects have focused on the history of earthquakes and seismology, the history of the environmental sciences, and journeys of trade and exploration in the American West.


PhD (History of Science) Harvard University (1998)
BA (U.S. History) Stanford University (1989)

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Conevery Bolton Valencius (CON-a-very va-LEN-chus): I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, graduated from Little Rock Central High, took classes at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, then trekked out West to earn a BA in history at Stanford University in 1989. I worked in San Francisco for several years, then decided I missed academic work and took a Greyhound bus cross country to attend Harvard.

In 1998, I earned a PhD in the History of Science. Shortly after, I worked for five years as an Assistant Professor in the departments of History, American Culture Studies, and Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. While at Wash U I published The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land (Basic Books, 2002), which won several prizes in writing and environmental history.

I loved teaching, but wanted more time to write. In 2004, I went free-range to chase a houseful of children and work on a new book. In 2011, with children and book manuscript substantially larger, I happily accepted a teaching position at UMass Boston, where I teach the history of the American Civil War and Reconstruction, U.S. environmental history, and the history of science, technology, and medicine.

In the fall of 2013, The University of Chicago Press published The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, which asks how we know what we know – or what we think we know – about long-forgotten but large earthquakes that rocked the United States in 1811-12.

List of talks on the The Lost History.

Current research interests: fracking and earthquake history in the American heartland, the lively state of science in early America, and the complicated environmental history of the coastal region south of Boston. 

Courses Offered

  • HIST 101: Introduction to Historical Questions and Methods
  • HIST 171: Leeches to Lasers: Medicine and Health in the United States
  • HIST 266: American History Since 1877
  • HIST 375: U.S. Civil War & Reconstruction
  • HIST 386: This Land is Your Land: A Survey of U.S. Environmental History
  • HIST 478: Sites of Calamity: Environments of Disaster in U.S. History
  • HIST 481: Research and Methods: U.S. Civil War

Professor Valencius's CV