April HaynesI specialize in the history of women in the early United States, and I teach courses on the history of gender and sexuality in comparative and transnational perspective.

My research to date has focused primarily on intersections of gender, race, and sexuality in women’s activism and feminist thought. My current and future work engages issues of feminized, intimate labor in the early Republic.

My first book, Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-century America, argues that debates over the nature of female sexuality gave rise to a dominant discourse against masturbation. Between 1830 and 1860, most Americans came to believe that “the solitary vice” caused physical and mental illnesses culminating in death. Although prior histories have treated the rise of masturbation phobia as a sign of masculinity in crisis, Riotous Flesh contends that diverse women popularized an evangelical version of antimasturbation physiology for their own reasons. In the process, moral reformers, abolitionists, and women’s rights advocates created a new expectation of heterosexual pleasure for married women. Their crusade had profound (though unintended) consequences for later generations of feminists and sexual minorities.

I am now conducting research for a second book project under the working title Tender Traffic, which will trace the origins of a feminized and transatlantic market in domestic labor during the period of gradual slave emancipation in the early national northeast.

  • Ph.D. History, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Doctoral Emphasis, Feminist Studies
  • M.A. History, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • B.A. History and Women’s Studies, San Francisco State University


Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Chicago Press 2015).  View Book Page

Selected Publications

  • “Sex-Ins, College-Style: Black Feminism and Sexual Politics in the Student YWCA, 1968-1980,” in Women’s Activism and ‘Second-Wave’ Feminism: Transnational Histories, ed. Barbara Molony and Jennifer Nelson (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
  • “Hotbeds of ‘Amalgamation,’ ‘Headquarters of Radicalism’: Graham Houses and the Interracial Moment in Moral Reform, 1830-1850,” The Journal of the Early Republic (article manuscript under revision).
  • “The Trials of Frederick Hollick: Obscenity, Sex Education, and Medical Democracy in the Antebellum United States,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, Volume 12: Number 4 (October 2003), pp. 543-574.

Selected Awards

  • Earhart Foundation Fellowship on American History, Clements Library, University of Michigan, 2014.
  • Margaret Storrs Grierson Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, 2012.
  • Hench Post-dissertation Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2009-10.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2009.
  • Dissertation Fellowship, Sexuality Research Fellowship Program, Social Science Research Council, 2005.

History Courses Taught

April Haynes

Assistant Professor



4119 Mosse Humanities

4018 Mosse Humanities

Office Hours:
Wednesdays 11:00-12:00, Thursdays 11:00-12:00