History | Sue Peabody

Sue Peabody

Professor of History

WSU Vancouver



Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1993

Academic & Professional Interests

Sue Peabody specializes in the history of slavery, freedom and the law in the French empire, 1600-1850. She is past president of the French Colonial Historical Society and serves on the editorial board of French Colonial History. She teaches early modern European society and culture, especially France and England; European colonialism 1450–1850; the Atlantic history of slavery, abolition and emancipation; and European women’s history.


Professor Peabody’s research examines the law of race and slavery in France and its Atlantic and Indian Ocean colonies and the people affected by those laws. Her first book,  There Are No Slaves in France: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (Oxford University Press, 1996), recovered the lost history of slaves’ freedom suits in France based on France’s Free Soil principle and legislation known as the Police des Noirs. Her subsequent works address France’s non-white residents in greater chronological and geographical scope, including: The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, ed. with Tyler Stovall (Duke University Press, 2002); Slavery, Freedom and the Law in the Atlantic World, with Keila Grinberg (Bedford Books, 2007); The Free Soil Principle in the Atlantic World, with Keila Grinberg (Routledge, 2014); Le Droit des Noirs en France au temps de l’esclavage (L’Harmattan, 2014) and articles in French Historical Studies, Journal of Social History, and Annales: Histoire/Sciences Sociales, among others. Her new book, Madeleine’s Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies, 1750-1850 (forthcoming, Oxford University Press), is the first biography to address the lives of particular slaves held in French plantation slavery.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • American Council of Learned Societies Sabbatical Fellowship (2013-2014)
  • Edward G. Meyer Professor of Liberal Arts, Washington State University (2010-2013)
  • Humanities Washington Project Grant (2010)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (2008)
  • American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship (2007-2008)
  • Associate Fellow, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, Yale University (1999)
  • Research Associate, African American Religion: A Documentary History Project, Amherst, MA (2001)
  • American Historical Association’s Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant Award (1990)