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Kaila Knight Schwartz

Ph.D. Student (ABD)

Advisor: Dr. Karin Wulf
email: [[kkschwartz]]
Current Research: Early America, children and the family, New England

Raised in South Carolina, Kaila came to Williamsburg after spending a decade in Massachusetts. She graduated from Brandeis University summa cum laude with a BA in history, and she also holds a dual MA/MLS in history and archives management from Simmons University. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, and Beta Phi Mu. She spent two semesters as an intern in the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Library at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. She was previously an editorial apprentice at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, where she fact-checked articles for the William and Mary Quarterly and books for the Institute Press. Kaila continues to do freelance work for the Omohundro. She is currently a tutor in the Clem History Writing Center, where she has worked since Fall 2021. In Fall 2019, she taught a section of American History to 1877. In previous years, she served as a T. A. for Global History.

Both her senior honors thesis and her M. A. thesis at Simmons examined changes in the personal naming practices in Massachusetts families from the colonial era to the eve of the Civil War, and connected those changes to broader shifts in religious and cultural beliefs, especially those pertaining to death and memorialization and the roles of women and children within the family. Her research challenged the attribution of onomastic change to secularization and individualization, suggesting more complex motives and stressing the multiple meanings a name could have. More recent research investigated the origins of puritan naming in England and different practices in the puritan Atlantic. Her dissertation builds on this earlier work on naming patterns, focusing again on New England families and the use of names as a form of memorialization and a tool for constructing identity. Kaila's M. A. portfolio at William & Mary included a paper on nineteenth- century representations of Giles Corey (of Salem Witch Trials renown) and another on the intertwined history of Robert Twelves, his great-grandson and namesake George Robert Twelves Hewes, and Boston's Old South Meetinghouse. Her general research interests include the social and cultural history of pre-twentieth- century America, historical memory, microhistory, digital humanities, quantitative history, Puritans, and New England history.