Tiya Miles is the Michael Garvey Professor of History and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is a public historian, academic historian, and creative writer whose work primarily explores the intersections of African American, Native American, and women’s histories in the context of place. Her temporal and geographical zones of greatest interest include the nineteenth-century U.S. South, Midwest, and West. Miles offers courses on slavery and public history, women’s history and literature, interrelated Black and Indigenous histories, and environmental humanities. She has become increasingly focused on ecological questions, environmental storytelling, and ways of articulating and enlivening African American environmental consciousness. Her forthcoming book, Wild Girls: How the Outdoors Shaped the Women Who Challenged a Nation, explores these themes as part of the W. W. Norton “Norton Shorts” book series (fall 2023).
Miles is the author of seven books and the only current two-time winner of Yale’s Frederick Douglass Prize for the study of slavery, abolition, and resistance. All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (first published in 2021), won eleven prizes, including the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Cundill History Prize, the Darlene Clark Hine Award for African American women’s and gender history and the Lawrence W. Levine Award for cultural history from the Organization of American Historians, the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize for women’s and gender history from the American Historical Association, the National Council on Public History book prize, and the PEN John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. All That She Carried was a New York Times bestseller and was selected as One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, Slate, Vulture, and Publishers Weekly and as One of the Best Books of The Year by the New York Times, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian Magazine, Book Riot, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist. She was especially honored to receive an American Historical Association Equity Award in 2022, a mentoring prize for supporting students of all backgrounds and diversifying the historical profession.
Miles’s previous books include: The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Bondage and Freedom in the City of the Straits (2017; winner of the Merle Curti Award in Social History and James A. Rawley Prize in the History of Race Relations from the Organization of American Historians, the James Bradford Best Biography Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction, an American Book Award, and a Frederick Douglass Prize); Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005/2015; winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians and the Lora Romero Prize from the American Studies Association), The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010; winner of the National Council on Public History and the American Society for Ethnohistory Book Prizes); Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era (2015; a published lecture series), and a work of historical fiction, The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts (2015; a Lambda Literary Award Finalist; with a revised and updated new edition forthcoming from Random House in 2023). Her prize-winning scholarly articles and essays explore nineteenth-century women’s struggles against injustice, conjoined Black and Native histories & literatures, public histories of plantations, and environmental histories and challenges. With the literary critic Sharon P. Holland, Miles co-edited a collection of essays on Afro-Native lives titled Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (2007).
Miles has served as a consultant for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, and the Chief Vann House State Historic Site in Georgia. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” Fellowship (2011-2016) and a Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (2007). Her work has also been supported by the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on biographies of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, as well as on an environmental history of American girlhood.
Miles was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds an AB in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University, an MA in Women’s Studies from Emory University, and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She taught on the faculty of the University of Michigan for sixteen years, where she served as Chair of the Department of Afroamerican & African Studies, Director of the Native American Studies Program, and founding director of ECO Girls (Environmental & Cultural Opportunities for Girls in Urban Southeast Michigan).
Please visit Tiya Miles’s websites for more information on her public history projects.