Central Connecticut State University History DepartmentCentral Connecticut State University - History Department

Katherine A. Hermes

Katherine A. Hermes 

Chair, History Department
Professor of History

Phone: (860) 832-2818 
Fax: (860) 832-2804 
Email: hermesk@ccsu.edu

Katherine A. Hermes received her B.A. in history from the University of California-Irvine in 1985, M.A. (1986) and M. Phil (1987) from Yale University, J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1992 and Ph.D. from Yale in 1995.

The path to all of those degrees was not an easy one or a predestined one. She began her post-secondary education in an adult education program in Boise, Idaho, learning automobile mechanics and then began studying part time at Boise State University in 1979, taking courses in history, mathematics, and aviation. During this time she lived in a tipi constructed using a book from the library. Difficult financial circumstances led to a long gap in her studies, but she resumed in 1983 at UC-Irvine, first as a mathematics major and then as a history major. During the interim she worked as a cook at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and at the Disneyland Hotel. Her desire to become a lawyer was supplanted at UCI by a passion for history, and it was there, through her mentor and professor, Dr. Christine Heyrman, that she realized she could become a legal historian. In this period, two things changed her life: her mentor’s outreach and encouragement, and reading Edmund S. Morgan’s magisterial history of colonial Virginia, American Slavery, American Freedom. She went to study with Prof. Morgan at Yale.

Dr. Hermes joined the faculty at CCSU in 1997. Prior to her arrival, she was a Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) and she has presented at several conferences in New Zealand since leaving in ‘97. At CCSU, she has served as interim department chair (Fall 2001) and interim coordinator of Polish Studies (2001-2002). In the Fall of 2005, she began a three-year term as co-coordinator of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program. In Fall 2012, she began a three-year term as department chair.

Dr. Hermes teaches courses in early American history, focusing on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Native American history and legal history. In her Spring 2013 course on Native Americans her students constructed a tipi using the same book that Dr. Hermes used when she lived out west. The tipi was part of CCSU’s Community Engagement Project on Homelessness and was donated for permanent display at the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park. Dr. Hermes was a finalist for CCSU’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999 and a semi-finalist in 2005, and has been on the EIT Honor Roll several times. 

She has presented papers by invitation at the Harvard International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World in 1997, 2000, and 2005, as well as at the Atlantic History Workshop sponsored by the Seminar in 2005. She was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the American Maritime History workshop at the Munson Institute, Mystic Seaport, in 2010. In 2012 the Max Planck Institute for Legal History in Frankfurt, Germany, invited her to speak at the LOEWE Research Focus workshop on “Justice without the State.” Dr. Hermes is also a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

In 2013, Dr. Hermes was elected as a Fellow to the International Academy on Workplace Bullying for her work as a volunteer to help targets of workplace abuse.

Planes, ships and automobiles! Professor Hermes has not lost her love of classic and fast cars. She has been the proud owner of a 1966 Mustang, a 1972 Morris 1100, a 1970 MG Midget, and a 1999 Firebird, among others.  She learned to love the sea from her time in New Zealand and at Mystic Seaport. She never managed to get a pilot’s license, but there is still time.

Sex and SexualitySelected Publications:

  • Sex and Sexuality in a Feminist World, edited with Karen Ritzenhoff, (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009).
  • “Law of Native Americans, to 1815,” in Cambridge History of Law in America, eds. Christopher Tomlins and Michael Grossberg, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
  • “Native Americans and the Law,” Connecticut History 43, no. 2 (2004). [special issue editor].
  • “‘I, Pampenum’: Native American Women’s Use of Connecticut’s Colonial Courts,” in Communities of Women, with Alexandra Maravel, eds. Barbara Brooks and Dorothy Page, (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2002).
  • “‘Justice Will Be Done Us’: Algonquian Demands for Reciprocity in the Courts of European Settlers,” in The Many Legalities of Early America, eds. Christopher L. Tomlins and Bruce H. Mann, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, 2001).
  • “‘By Their desire recorded: Native American Wills and Estate Administrations in Colonial Connecticut,” Connecticut History38, no. 2 (1999).
  • “Jurisdiction in the Colonial Northeast: Algonquian, English and French Governance in the Seventeenth Century,” American Journal of Legal History 42, no. 1 (1999).
  • “America’s World; The World’s America,” Australasian Journal of American Studies (1996) [special issue co-editor].

For copies of papers, see https://ccsu.academia.edu/KatherineHermes