African American woman posing with arms crossed.
  • Assistant Professor of History and Comparative American Studies


  • PhD, University of Virginia
  • MA, University of Virginia
  • MA, Columbia University
  • BA, Miami University (Ohio)


Tamika Nunley is an assistant professor of American history. Her research and teaching interests include slavery, gender, 19th-century legal history, digital history, and the American Civil War.

At Oberlin, she created the History Design Lab that allows students to develop scholarly projects that involve methodological approaches that range from digital humanities, exhibit design, oral history, podcasts, historical fiction, and public history.

Her book manuscript, ‘‘At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and the Boundaries of Freedom in Washington, D.C.,’’ examines how black women strategically used the laws, geography, and community networks of the nation’s capital to make claims to liberty during the Civil War era.

Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon and Woodrow Wilson foundations as well as the American Association of University Women.

  • At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and the Boundaries of Freedom in Washington, D.C. (book manuscript in progress) 
  • “Sufficient for Public Justice and Example: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Practice of Leniency in Antebellum Virginia Courts’’ (in progress)
  • “’I Know What Liberty Is’: Elizabeth Keckly’s Union War” New Perspectives on the Union War eds. Gary Gallagher and Elizabeth Varon in the North’s Civil War Series (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019
  •  “By Stealth’ or Dispute: Freedwomen and the Contestation of American Citizenship” in The Civil War and the Transformation of the American Citizenship, ed. Paul Quigley (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2018)   
  • “Teaching in Climes of Unrest: BLM, Slavery, and the Intellectual Underpinnings of Student Protest at Oberlin” in the Panorama, a digital publication of the Journal of the Early Republic, August 21, 2017

  • Loren Schweninger, Appealing for Liberty: Freedom Suits in the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018) William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 76, No.3 (July 2019).
  • Tera Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017) in American Journal of Legal History 58, no.1 (spring 2018).
  • Amber D. Moulton, The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015). Journal of the Civil War Era Vol. 6, Issue 4 (December 2016).
  • Jessica Millward, Finding Charity’s Folk: Enslaved and Free Black Women in Maryland. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015) Civil War Book Review August 2016.