Neal Salisbury

Barbara Richmond 1940 Professor Emeritus in the Social Sciences (History)

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Ph.D., M.A., B.A., University of California, Los Angeles


Neal Salisbury is a historian of Native Americans and early modern North America. His research and writing center on indigenous history as a vital dimension of American history, especially in New England, ca. 1500–1700. He draws on approaches and findings of scholars in Native American/Indigenous studies, anthropology, archaeology, imperial and settler colonialisms, and the transnational Atlantic. His work presents Indian history on its own terms, countering the terms established by colonizers that continue to pervade academic scholarship, popular culture and political discourse. His current book project examines southern New England Natives’ interactions with other Natives and non-Natives within the region and beyond—in the greater Northeast and Atlantic world—elucidating how Natives as well as non-Natives shaped the region’s 17th-century history.

Salisbury has been awarded fellowships by the Smithsonian Institution, the Newberry Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard, the National Humanities Center, the American Antiquarian Society and the American Council of Learned Societies. From 1988 to 2017, he co-edited a book series, Cambridge Studies in North American Indian History, for Cambridge University Press. He is a past president of the American Society for Ethnohistory and has served on the Council of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. He is also a member of the American Antiquarian Society and Colonial Society of Massachusetts (both elected), the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of Early Americanists, and is an Associate of the Omohundro Institute and a Friend of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. In 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Ethnohistory and was named an honorary member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

Salisbury taught courses on Native Americans, colonial-revolutionary North America, the American West, and U.S. social history at Smith from 1973 to 2008 and occasionally thereafter to 2014. As an adjunct member of the graduate faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he worked with students in the history and anthropology departments. He was a founding member of the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Seminar, in which he remains active.

Selected Publications

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God by Mary Rowlandson, with Related Documents, editor. (2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2017).

“Spiritual Giants, Worldly Empires: Indigenous Peoples and New England to the 1680s,” in The World of Colonial America: An Atlantic Handbook, edited by Ignacio Gallup-Diaz (New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 153-170.

“The Atlantic Northeast,” in The Oxford Companion to American Indian History, edited by Frederick E. Hoxie (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 335-358.

The People: A History of Native America, with R. David Edmunds and Frederick E. Hoxie (Boston: Cengage, 2007).

Reinterpreting New England Indians and the Colonial Experience, edited with Colin G. Calloway (Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2003).

A Companion to American Indian History, edited with Philip J. Deloria (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002).

"The Indians’ Old World: Native Americans and the Coming of Europeans," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 53 (July 1996), 435-458.

Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1643 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982).