Profile profile for CohenK

Kenneth Cohen

Edward & Helen Hintz Secretarial Scholar and Curator

Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2008
M.A., Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, 2002
B.A., Allegheny College, 1998

Research Specialties: 

Early America, Mass Culture, Political Culture, Sport, Theatre


I am a historian interested in the past’s relevance today. Most of my published research focuses on how Americans of all stripes have used entertainment to express their political opinions. My first book, They Will Have Their Game: Sporting Culture and the Making of the American Republic, explores how horse racing, theatre, and tavern-going helped shape the evolution of American democracy and capitalism, and how celebrities have used their stardom to push for political goals, or even run for office themselves, since the country’s founding era. In addition to my publications, I believe that historians and their work benefit from the broadest possible engagement with sources and audiences, so I have worked on a wide range of public history projects, from interpretations of African American farm labor to billiard room restoration and aquarium design. Every project involves topics and research that help me think more inclusively on the next one. The same logic applies to conversations with anyone interested in history, so please feel free to contact me with feedback or questions.

Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 
  • 2018 James Broussard Prize for Best First Book on American History, 1776-1860, for They Will Have Their Game: Sporting Culture and the Making of the Early American Republic (Cornell University Press: 2017), awarded by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
  • Fulbright Professor of American and Museum Studies, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Museé des Civilisations, Côte d’Ivoire, 2015-2017
  • NEH-ODH Doing Digital History Fellow, 2014
  • Research Fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Library Company of Philadelphia, New Jersey Historical Commission, University of Pennsylvania, University of South Carolina, and Virginia Historical Society, among others.
Professional Affiliations: 
  • American Historical Assocation
  • National Council for Public History
  • Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture
  • Society of Historians of the Early American Republic