Jordan Smith


Jordan Smith, Georgetown University

Barra Dissertation Fellow in Art and Material Culture

“The Invention of Rum”

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Atlantic History at Georgetown University. My dissertation examines the invention and production of rum in the British Atlantic World. I am especially interested in how free and coerced residents of the West Indies combined ideas and ingredients from throughout the Atlantic world to invent rum in the mid-seventeenth century, and how an array of  Africans, Britons, and creoles worked to further innovate the rum production process in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thus far, my research has drawn on the collections of nearly forty archives in Barbados, Jamaica, England, Wales, Scotland, and eight U.S. states.

I am also a committed public historian. Since 2009, I have worked as a Historic Trades Interpreter at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Several times each year I join a team of public historians and alcohol producers to make spirits at the reconstructed distillery using historically-inspired techniques. I also volunteer as a researcher for the Georgetown Slavery Archive.

Before coming to Georgetown, I graduated with a B.A. in History from Carleton College. I enjoy running, grilling, rooting for Philadelphia sports teams, and playing board games in my spare time.


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