Laura M Shelton Associate Professor of History
I have had a long fascination with Latin America’s rural borderlands, especially how and why people organized their lives around their families. My book, For Tranquility and Order, explores how nineteenth-century families in northwestern Mexico used their local courtrooms to air grievances, aid loved ones, and present their personal and financial affairs before the state. In the process, these ranchers, widows, artisans, merchants, mothers, fathers, and children did their part to build a new republican order. My current research examines midwives and motherhood in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands and other parts of provinical Mexico from the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. I am interested in understanding how the daily lives of these resourceful women changed dramatically against a backdrop of ethnic conflict, rapid modernization, and increasing international interaction among people of the United States and Mexico.
My teaching interests include ethnohistory, the history of caste, class, and race in Latin America, and environmental history. I encourage students to engage in primary research in Latin America, a region with hundreds of overlooked state and local archives. I view education as a collaborative process in which students are active participants. The classroom and the archives are ideal places to embark on a life-long process of intellectual inquiry.
- University of Arizona Ph.D. Latin American History 2004
- Temple University M.A. Latin American History 1996
- McPherson College B.A. Psychology & German 1989
- Marburg Universität Study Abroad 1988-1989
Dissertation: “Families in the Courtroom: Law, Community and Gender in Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850.”
M.A. Thesis: “Mexican Labor Migration to the United States, 1910-1921 and 1942-1964.”
Gender and Sexuality in Latin America
Nineteenth-Century Latin America
Guest Editor with Martha Liliana Espinosa Tavares, "Introduction: Special Issue: Reproduction, Contraception, and Obstetrics in Modern Mexico," in Journal of Women's History 34:2 (Summer, 2022) 3-10.
"Birth and Death in the Maternity Ward of the the Guadalajara's Hospital Civil, 1888-1940," in Journal of Women's History 34:2 (Summer, 2022) 31-52.
"Romanticism in Mexico," in The Oxford Handbook of Mexican History. ed. William Beezley (May, 2021) 1-22. file:///Users/lshelton/Downloads/Laura%20Shelton%20Romanticism%20in%20Mexico.pdf
"Creating Modern Medicine and the Modern Nation in Northern Mexico: A Comparative Analysis of Nuevo León and Sonora, 1860–1930," in The Latin Americanist 63:4 (2019) 399-424.
“La Obstetrcia como un símbolo del Estado Moderno: Sonora y Nuevo León, a fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX,” in El orden social y politico en los terretorios de frontera hispanoamericanso. Siglos XVI-XX (Hermosillo: El Colegio de Sonora y El Colegio de Michoacán, 2018) 123-133.
“Bodies of Evidence: Honor, Prueba Plena, and Emerging Medical Discourses in Northern Mexico’s Infanticide Trials in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” in The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History 74:4 (October, 2017) 457-480.
"El Infanticidio y Disciplina Populares en el Sistema Judicial de Sonora, México Entre 1855 y 1929," in Revista Culturales 1:1 (enero-junio de 2017).
"Death and Dying in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1790-1870," in New Mexico Historical Review, (Winter, 2014).
"The Power of the Midwife’s Word: Examining, Women’s Work Through Statutory Rape and Infanticide Trials in the Sonoran State Judiciary, 1820-1880," in MEYIBÓ 4:7 (2013).
"Los indígenas y el imaginario social sobre los indígenas en los procesos de estupro y violación en el juzgado penal de Sonora, 1821-1870" in Indios, españoles y mestizos en zonas de frontera, siglos XVII-XX (Hermosillo: El Colegio de Sonora y El Colegio de Michoacán, 2013).
For Tranquility and Order: Family and Community on Mexico’s Northern Frontier, 1800- 1850, (The University of Arizona Press, April, 2010).
“’Las Buenas Costumbres’: Changing Definitions of Honor in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1800-1850,” in Proceedings and Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 2009.
“Like a Servant or Like a Son? Circulating Children in Northwestern Mexico, 1790-1850,” in Raising an Empire in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America, eds., Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, (The University of New Mexico Press, 2007), 219-237.
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Milena Tutiven and Juan Ayala, Summer 2021
Franklin and Marshall College Research Collaboration with Yuliana Tamayo, Spring 2021
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Milena Tutiven, Summer 2020
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Guadalupe Razo, Summer 2019
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Michelle Veliz, Summer 2017
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Morgan Gray, Summer 2015
Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Cesar Diego and Morgan Gray, Summer, 2014
"Mexico's Provinces and Peripheries: Global Linkages and the Professionalization of Medicine in Jalisco, Nuevo León, and Sonora, 1870-1940." Paper presented at the American Historical Association, Virtual, January, 2021.
"La historia comparativa de medicina y curación en Nueva León y Sonora, 1850-1950." Invited Presentation at El V Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, Hermosillo, Sonora MX, October, 2019. Invited Presenter.
"Birth and Death in the Maternity Ward of Guadalajara's Hospital Civil, 1870-1940." Paper presented at the History of Science Society, Seattle, November, 2018.
“Doctors, Healers, Midwives, and Charlatans: Medical and Legal Encounters in the Courts of Nineteenth-Century Nuevo León, 1840-1850.” Paper presented at the Rocky Mountain Council of Latin Americans Studies, Salt Lake City, April, 2017.
"Midwives as Intermediaries between Mothers and the Courts in Infanticide Cases on Mexico's Northern Borderlands during the 19th Century," Paper presented at the 15th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Toronto, Toronto, May 22-25, 2014.
"Nuevas interpretaciones culturales y legales de la violencia más intima: el infanticidio y el abandono infantile en Sonora entre 1850 y 1910," Invited Presentation at El V Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, Hermosillo, Sonora MX, October, 2013.
“Telling Violence in Nineteenth-Century Northern Mexico: Narratives of Gender and Ethnicity in Sonora’s Criminal Courts after La Reforma,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Santa Fe, NM, April, 2013.
“Finding Midwives and Mothers in Mexico’s Borderlands: Approaches to Studying Women and Medicine in Remote Places,” Invited Presentation at the American Association for the History of Nursing, Savannah, GA, September, 2012.
Invited Presentation of For Tranquility and Order. Family and Community on Mexico’s Northern Frontier, 1800-1850 at the IV Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, October 19-21, 2011.
“Los indigenas en los procesos de estupro y violación en el juzgado penal de Sonora, 1821-1870,” Paper presented at the Colegio de Sonora, IV Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, “Indígenas, historia y fronteras,” October 19-21, 2011. Invited Presenter.
“Midwives and Republicanism in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1790-1880” Paper presented at the 15th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 9-12, 2011.
“Death, Debt, and Inheritance: The Circulation of Petty Credit in Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Santa Fe, NM, March, 2009
“From Mission Indians to Republican Mothers: Missionaries and Indigenous Women of the Río Sonora and Yaqui River Valleys of Northwestern Mexico, 1780-1860,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Third World Studies, Lima, Peru, November, 2007
“Citizenship, Servant Laws, and the Negotiation of Labor Relations in the Local Courts of Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750 – 1850, Atlanta, GA, March, 2006
“An Unbearable Existence: Rural People in Sonora, Mexico, and the Transition to Debt Peonage, 1800-1850” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Philadelphia, PA, January, 2006
“Respect and Veneration for Elders by All Laws Divine, Positive, and Natural: Intergenerational Relationships in Sonora, Mexico, 1800-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Tucson, AZ, March 2005
“Adultery and the Double Standard: An Analysis of Marital Disputes in Sonora, Mexico, 1820-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Phoenix, AZ, February, 2003
“Los procesos de rapto y estupro en el juzgado penal de Hermosillo, 1820-1840.” Paper presented at El Seminario del siglo XIX, Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, March 2002
“Curbing Carnal Passions: The Case of Juan Pasqual and the Regulation of Sexuality and Patriarchal Authority in Northern New Spain, 1760-1821.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Tucson, AZ, March, 2001
Colonial Latin America
Modern Latin America
Environmental History of Latin America
History of Modern Mexico
History of Gender and Sexuality in Latin America
The History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
Grants & Awards
- 2020 Helen Delpar Award, best article published in The Latin Americanist in 2019
- Teagle Foundation, with Jeffrey Nesteruk and Timothy Sipe, in collaboration with The University of Pennsylvania and Bucknell University, 2016-2018
- Franklin and Marshall College, Faculty Research Grant, 2015
- Georgia Southern University, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Seed Grant, Spring and Summer, 2011.
- Georgia Southern University, First Year Experience Grant, Summer and Fall, 2009
- Georgia Southern University, Center for Excellence in Teaching, Summer Awards, Summer, 2008
- Georgia Southern University Writing Center Award, Most Creative Student Writing Assignment, Fall, 2006
- Georgia Southern University NEH Summer Grants Candidate, Campus Nominee, 2005
- Fulbright-García Robles Fellowship, 2001-2002
- University of Arizona Rockfellow Scholarship, 1999-2000