Linford D. Fisher Associate Professor of History

Professor Fisher grew up in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2008. He joined the Department of History at Brown in the summer of 2009. Professor Fisher's research and teaching relate primarily to the cultural and religious history of colonial America and the Atlantic world, including Native Americans, religion, material culture, and Indian and African slavery and servitude. He is the author or co-author of two books and over a dozen articles and book chapters, and is currently writing a book on the history of Native American and African enslavement in the English Atlantic world. 

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

“Guest Editors’ Introduction: New Directions in the History of Native American Slavery Studies,” with Arne Bialuschewski, for a special issue on Native slavery for Ethnohistory vol. 64, no. 1 (forthcoming January 2017).

“‘Why shall wee have peace to bee made slaves?’ Indian Surrenderers During and After King Philip’s War,” for a special issue on Native slavery for Ethnohistory vol. 64, no. 1 (forthcoming January 2017).

“Evangelicals and Unevangelicals: The Contested History of a Word, 1500–1950,” Religion & American Culture vol. 26, no. 2 (July 2016).

"'Not in our Neighborhood': The SPGNA, American Indians, and the Turn to Foreign Missions in the Early Republic," Common-place, 15:3, Spring 2015. 

Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island's Founding Father, with Lucas Mason-Brown and J. Stanley Lemons (Baylor University Press,  2014).

"'By Treachery and Seduction': Indian Baptism and Conversion in the Roger Williams Code," with Lucas Mason-Brown, William and Mary Quarterly 71, no. 2, 3rd ser. (April 2014), 175-202.

“‘Dangerous Designes’: The 1676 Barbados Act to Prohibit New England Indian Slave Importation,” William and Mary Quarterly 71 no. 1, 3rd ser. (January 2014): 99-124. 

"Religion, Race, and the Formation of Pan-Indian Identities in the Brotherton Movement, 1700-1800," in Native Diasporas: Indigenous Identities and Settler Colonialism in the Americas, Gregory D. Smithers and Brooke N. Newman, eds. (University of Nebraska Press, 2014).

"A Brass Hawk and an Indian Bible: Land, Sachemship Disputes, and Power in the Conversion of Ben Uncas II," Journal of Social History 47:2 (Winter 2013).

The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford University Press, 2012; paperback 2014).

"'It provd But Temporary, & Short lived': Pequot Affiliation in the First Great Awakening," Ethnohistory 59:3 (July 2012): 465-488..

"Colonial Encounters," in The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History, Paul Harvey and Edward J. Blum, eds. (Columbia University Press, 2012).

"Writing Histories: Empire, Religion, and the Production of Native American Manuscripts, 1600 – 1800," in Manuscripts 63:4 (Fall 2011).

"Native Americans, Conversion, and Christian Practice in Colonial New England," Harvard Theological Review 102:1 (January 2009).

"'I believe they are Papists!': Natives, Moravians, and the Politics of Conversion in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut," The New England Quarterly 81:3 (September 2008).

research overview

Professor Fisher is a historian of early America and the early modern Atlantic world. His fields of research are colonial America, the Atlantic World, American Indians (especially the contact period through the end of the eighteenth century), material culture, the history of Indian and African colonial slavery, and the history of religion in America. His current research centers on the various kinds of servitude and enslavement of Indians and Africans in New England and the Atlantic world.

research statement

Professor Fisher's first book, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America , was published by Oxford University Press in May 2012. It looks at Native American communities in Rhode Island, Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and Long Island (NY), over the long course of the 18th century, particularly with regard to their involvement in the so-called "Great Awakening" of the 1740s. Using a variety of court documents, land deeds, letters, material culture, and church records, he traces the selective adoption of Christian ideas and practices by Native individuals prior to and during the Great Awakening, and the subsequent emergence, post-awakening, of a distinct Indian separatism and partial rejection of Anglo-American religious institutions in response to a growing proto-racism.

Professor Fisher has co-authored a book and essay on the Roger Williams code, a modified shorthand utilized by Williams to write a brand new essay late in his life. The essay was published in the William and Mary Quarterly in April 2014; the book, Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island's Founding Father was published by Baylor University Press in the summer of 2014.

He is currently working on his next book-length project, which is a broad-ranging history of slavery and the shades of servitude in colonial New England and the Atlantic world among Africans and Native Americans. He is also working on an article about North American Natives who were shipped to the Caribbean as slaves in the colonial period.

funded research

American Council of Learned Societies, Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship (to be taken in 2017-2018) 

Newberry Library NEH Lloyd Lewis Long-Term Fellowship in America History (2014-2015)

American Antiquarian Society NEH Long-Term Fellowship (2014-2015)

Faculty Development Fund Grant, Brown University (2013-2014)

Humanities Research Grant, Brown University (2013-2014)

Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (collaborative research, summer 2013)

Humanities Initiative Research Award, Brown University (2013)

Humanities Research Grant, Brown University (2012-2013)

Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (collaborative research, Summer 2012)

American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant (2011-2012)

Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University (2011-2012)

Humanities Research Grant, Brown University (2011-2012)

Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (collaborative research, Summer 2010)

Massachusetts Historical Society NEH Long-Term Fellowship (2010-2011)

American Philosophical Society, Phillips Fund for Native American Research (2007-2008)

American Antiquarian Society, Peterson Fellowship (2007-2008)

William R. Hutchison Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard University (2006-2007)

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Research Fellowship (2006-2007)