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Personal profile


My teaching broadly focuses on the colonisation of North America, particularly the British mainland colonies, from the sixtenth to the early nineteenth centuries, and the interactions between native peoples and colonisers. I teach a wide range of modules across all levels of the university curriculum.

I am currently convenor of the Level 2 module Contemporary America in Context. At level 3 I teach the modules The Invasion of America: The Native American Response to European Colonisation, 1492-1763 and Early American Culture and Society. At Level 4 I teach Settling the Trans-Appalachian West, ca.1774-1830. I also teach on the modules The Rise of Atlantic Empires, 1500-1750, The Age of Revolution 1750-1850, and Human Futures.

At postgraduate level I teach on the modules Global Empires, History Skills and Sources and History and Documentary.


My early work focused on the impact of the Seven Years' War in Virginia and Pennsylvania. My current research looks more broadly at the development of imperial relations in the mid-eighteenth century and in particular the relationship between Native Americans, Anglo-American settlers and the British Army in the mid-west and Great Lakes region.

My recent research has focussed on law, manhood, and violence in the early American backcountry from 1730-1815 (focusing on Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky). I have just completed a book, Making the Frontier Man: Manhood, Violence, and Authority in the Early Western Backcountry, ca.1750-1815 that will be appearing shortly with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

For my future research I am planing to look at the interaction between warfare and epidemic disease amongst native peoples in the upper Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region.

Research interests

My broad research interests lie in the interaction of European peoples with native peoples in North America and the ways in which interaction transformed the cultures and societies of both. I view early American history in many ways as an extension of British history and I do not limit my study to the current United States, but also include Canada and the West Indies.I have particular interests in issues of gender and violence.

In the past decade work on both sides of the Atlantic has transformed our understanding of the nature of the early American 'frontier.' We now see the area as a dynamic region of exchange between different cultures and different peoples. I am particularly interested in examining this 'cultural interchange' and in particular some of the following issues.

  • Was violence always endemic to frontier culture?
  • How did the presence of the British army in the trans-Appalachian west and on the Great Lakes affect relations between settlers and Native Americans?
  • How can we explain Native American population decline in the eighteenth century?
  • How did Anglo-French and Anglo-American competition in the mid-west and Great Lakes region affect the lives of the region's Native American inhabitants?
  • How important was the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region to the British Empire in the second half of the eighteenth century?


Before joining the University of Dundee in 1992 I completed my postgraduate work in the United States at the College of William and Mary where I also taught a number of courses.

My research interests have always focussed on the interaction between native peoples and colonisers. More broadly I am interested in Britain's involvement in early America, and the interaction of the British Empire with different peoples. This is reflected in my background, as I have been described in one review of my work as a 'genuinely trans-Atlantic product' with English roots, an American PhD, Canadian research interests, living and working in Scotland. These research interests take me to both sides of the Atlantic, conducting much of my research in archives in London, Canada and the United States, and giving conference papers on both sides of the Atlantic.

I am a member of the Scottish Centre for Global History

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Research Output

Laws, Courts and Communities in the Pennsylvania Backcountry, ca.1750-1800

Ward, M. C., 30 Apr 2016, In : Journal of Early American History. 60, 1, p. 40-67 28 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 152 Downloads (Pure)

    Guns, Violence and Identity on the Trans-Appalachian American Frontier

    Ward, M. C., Aug 2013, A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Jones, K. & Macola, G. (eds.). Farnham: Ashgate, p. 17-38 22 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    Crossing the Line? The British Army and the Application of the European 'Rules of War' in the Quebec Campaign

    Ward, M. C., Jul 2012, Revisiting 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Perspective. Buckner, P. A. & Reid, J. G. (eds.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 44-68 25 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    Understanding native American alliances

    Ward, M. C., 2012, The seven years' war: global views. Danley, M. H. & Speelman, P. J. (eds.). Brill Academic Publishers, p. 47-72 26 p. (History of warfare; vol. 80).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Peaceable Kingdom Lost: the Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment

    Ward, M. C., 2010, In : Journal of American History. 97, 1, p. 155-156 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


    Previous Philip S. Klein Pennsylvania History Prize

    Ward, Matthew (Recipient), 2009

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    Scottish Association for the Study of America Conference

    Matthew Ward (Participant)

    29 Feb 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    PhD Examiner

    Matthew Ward (Examiner)

    14 Jan 2019

    Activity: Examination typesExamination

    University of Pittsburgh Press (Publisher)

    Matthew Ward (Editorial board member)

    12 Jun 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Dundee Arts Café - Guns, Violence and Toxic Masculinity in the USA

    Matthew Ward (Speaker)

    1 Oct 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    European Early American Studies Association Conference

    Matthew Ward (Participant)

    14 Dec 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference