Fay Yarbrough

WEBSITE(S)| Ctr for the Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality | Ctr for African & African American Studies | School of Humanities

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.

Professor Yarbrough’s most recent book is Choctaw Confederates: the American Civil War in Indian Country which considers the participation of Choctaw Indians in the American Civil War.

Professor Yarbrough teaches courses on nineteenth-century American history covering the American Civil War, Native history, African American history, and women and gender.

Selected Publications: 

  • Choctaw Confederates: the American Civil War in Indian Country, University of North Carolina Press, 2021.
  • “’Dis Land Which Jines Dat of Ole Master’s’:  The Meaning of Citizenship for the Choctaw Freedpeople,” Civil War Wests:  Testing the Limits of the United States, edited by Adam Arenson and Andrew R. Graybill, University of California Press, 2015.
  • Gender and Sexuality in Indigenous North America, 1400-1850, co-edited 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.
  • Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.
  • “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.

Research Areas

American Indian History; African American History; Southern History


PhD, Emory University

MA, Emory University

BA, Rice University

Teaching Areas

Nineteenth-century American history covering the Civil War

Native history

African American history

Women and gender


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