April Haynes

Position title: Associate Professor of History

Email: april.haynes@wisc.edu

Phone: 608.263.1823

Office: 4119 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4018 Mosse Humanities
Office Hours: TBA

April Haynes headshot


I am a historian of women, gender, and sexuality in the early US. My research priorities include racialized gender, intimate labor, and women in social movements. I teach courses about women in early US/North American history, gender in world history, historiography and historical methods.

My first book, Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-century America, unearths the surprising origins of a sex panic that ultimately prepared many Americans to accept heteronormativity.

My current research project traces the history of movements against sex trafficking to eighteenth-century abolitionists, who condemned sexual violence as a bulwark of slavery. It shows how anti-trafficking rhetoric changed over time: diverse women and girls invoked it while protesting exploitation in household service; employers, reformers, and state actors appropriated it to justify coercive practices as “protection.” Fears and realities of sex trafficking profoundly shaped labor markets, migrations, and movements between 1790 and 1860.

I am also working on a textbook project, which synthesizes major debates in gender history from the ancient world to the present day.


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


Selected Publications

  • “From Magdalen Asylum to Labor Depot: How the Panic of 1819 made Housework ‘Non-Market Activity’,” Journal of the Early Republic (in press 2020).
  • “Intimate Economies” in A Companion to American Women’s History, eds. Nancy A. Hewitt and Anne Valk (in press 2020).
  • “Radical Hospitality and Political Intimacy in Grahamite Boardinghouses, 1830-1850,” Journal of the Early Republic 39:3 (Fall 2019).
  • “‘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, 2017) 37-62.
  •  “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

  • Mellon New Directions Fellowship, 2020-2022
  • James F. Broussard best first book prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2016.  View Interview

Advisor To

History Courses Taught

  • History 283 – Women and Gender in World History
  • History 353 – Women and Gender in the U.S. to 1870
  • History 221 – Sex in America
  • History 344 – Age of the American Revolution
  • History 600 – Advanced Seminar in History: The Age of Jefferson and Jackson