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Hilary Coulson

Hilary Coulson
314 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, University of California, San Diego: Expected Spring 2016
  2. CPHIL: University of California, San Diego: 2014
  3. MA, University of California, San Diego: 2014
  4. BA, University of San Diego: 2010


I’m a San Diego native and attended school at the University of San Diego where I majored in Interdisciplinary Humanities with minors in History and English. I currently attend the University of California, San Diego where I received my Masters in U.S. History as well as advancement to PhD Candidacy. I will finish my dissertation, “The Wasp Nest: Virginia’s First Penitentiary and the Confinement of Women in Richmond, 1796-1877” in the spring of 2016. I'm an institutional historian with a focus on gender and racial issues within the early penitentiary system. My current research has a regional focus on the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania and I examine how infrastructure developed in the North and the South in the Early Republic. Since my research is focused on the Virginia Penitentiary, I carry the study through Reconstruction to examine the impacts of the war on the facility. My exploration of the early penitentiary system yields unique results concerning its development and operation throughout the 19th century. My work challenges the traditional narrative of complete failure in Southern institutions and develops a case for the significance of Southern infrastructure in the Early Republic.

As a teacher, I have a broad array of interests. The focus of my Ph.D. remains a passion, but I also enjoy exploring 20th century issues, particularly the impact of the two World Wars. My research also facilitates the opportunity to teach a History of Pennsylvania course, which explores the state’s development from colonial settlement to the present day. Additionally, I enjoy teaching American History survey courses and I especially relish the opportunity to assist students in writing courses.