Nicholas L. Syrett is a Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the chair of the department. He earned his A.B. in Women's and Gender Studies at Columbia University and his Ph.D. in American Culture at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on gender, sexuality, and childhood in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. He is a coeditor (with Corinne T. Field, University of Virginia) of Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (2015) and the author of two books: The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities (2009) and American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States (2016). He has also published essays on queer history in American Studies, Genders, GLQ, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, and the Pacific Historical Review. He has been interviewed about his work on NPR's Morning Edition, Back Story, and other radio programs and in publications like Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Bloomberg News, and the Atlantic. He has contributed op-eds to the New York Times, CNN, the Daily Beast, and the Washington Post.
He currently serves as a book review editor for the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and from 2015 through 2017 was a co-chair of the Committee on LGBT History, the national organization for the study of queer history. Prior to joining the faculty at KU, he taught for eleven years in the History Department at the University of Northern Colorado.
Ph.D., Program in American Culture, University of Michigan
Graduate Certificate, Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
M.A., Program in American Culture, University of Michigan
A.B., Women’s and Gender Studies, Columbia University
- Women's and gender history
- Queer history
- Politics of marriage and family
Syrett is a historian of gender, sexuality and childhood in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. He is currently working on three projects: (1) a biography of a same-sex couple (Robert and John Allerton) who lived as father and son during the first half of the twentieth century, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press; (2) a book on the life and times of Madame Restell, the most famous abortionist in nineteenth-century New York City; and (3) with Corinne T. Field (University of Virginia), a journal forum on age as a category of analysis considered transnationally.
- Gender and sexuality in the 19th- and 20th-century United States
- Histories of childhood
- Sex and gender in the law
Syrett is the current Chair of the WGSS Department. From 2015 through 2017 he was also a Co-Chair of the Committee on LGBT History, an AHA affiliate society. He is a book review editor for the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and has sat on committees for the Organization of American Historians, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Society for the History of Children and Youth.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (under contract). Intimate Relations: The Family Story of Robert and John Gregg Allerton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2016). American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett, eds. (2015). Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present. New York: New York University Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2009). The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Articles and Book Chapters
Syrett, Nicholas L. (forthcoming). "Youth Cultures, Sexuality, and the Persistence of the Double Standard in the Twentieth-Century United States." In James Marten, ed., Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pomfret, David and Nicholas L. Syrett (forthcoming). "Concepts of Youth." In Kristine Alexander and Simon Sleight, eds., A Cultural History of Youth in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (forthcoming). "Exclusivity, Segregation, and Democracy: Amherst College and its Fraternities." In Martha Saxton, ed., Amherst in the World. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (forthcoming). "Age." In Kevin P. Murphy, Jason Ruiz, & David Serlin, eds., The Routledge History of American Sexuality. New York: Routledge.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (forthcoming). "Age Disparity, Marriage, and the Gendering of Heterosexuality." In Rebecca L. Davis & Michele Mitchell, eds., Heterosexual Histories: Identity and Desire in North America Across Four Centuries. New York: New York University Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "Afterword." In Andrew Moisey, The American Fraternity. (pp. 187-191). New York: Daylight Books .
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "'We Are Not So Easily To Be Overcome’: Fraternities on the American College Campus." In Christine A. Ogren & Marc VanOverbeke, eds., Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of Being a College Student in the United States (pp. 137-160). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "Miscegenation Law and the Politics of Mixed-Race Illegitimate Children in the Turn-of-the-Century United States." Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth , 11(1), 52-57.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2015). "Statutory Marriage Ages and the Gendered Construction of Adulthood in the Nineteenth Century." In Corinne T. Field & Nicholas L. Syrett, eds., Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (pp. 103-123). New York: New York University Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "Screening the Queer Past: Teaching LGBT History with Documentary Films." In Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, eds., Understanding and Teaching U.S. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender History (pp. 331-342). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "The Contested Meanings of Child Marriage in the Turn-of-the-Century United States." In James Marten, ed., Children and Youth During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (pp. 145-165). New York: New York University Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "Mobility, Circulation, and Correspondence: White Queer Men in the Midcentury Midwest." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 20(1-2), 75-94.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2013). "Lord of a Hawaiian Island’: Robert and John Gregg Allerton, Queerness, and the Erasure of Colonialism on Kaua‘i." Pacific Historical Review, 82(3), 396-427.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2013). "'I did and I don’t regret it’: Child Marriage and the Contestation of Childhood in the United States, 1880- 1925." Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 6(2), 314-331.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2012). "Queering Couplehood: Robert and John Allerton and Historical Perspectives on Kinship." Genders, 55.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2012). "A Busman’s Holiday in the Not-So-Lonely Crowd: Business Culture, Epistolary Networks, and Itinerant Homosexuality in Mid-Twentieth Century America". Journal of the History of of Sexuality, 21(1), 121-140.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2009). "Who Is Teaching Women’s History?: ‘Insight,’ ‘Objectivity,’ and Identity." In Carol Berkin, Margaret Crocco, & Barbara Winslow, eds., Clio in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching U.S. Women’s History (pp. 267-278). New York: Oxford University Press.
Syrett, Nicholas L. (2007). "The Boys of Beaver Meadow: A Homosexual Community at 1920s Dartmouth College." American Studies, 48(2), 9-18.