Broadly speaking, Camden's research explores the interaction of nature, business, and culture in nineteenth-century America. His current project examines the role of plant nurserymen in nineteenth-century America. Nurserymen were naturalists, city planners, reformers, scientists, and businessmen. Their vision for the American landscape blended agribusiness with a deep reverence for the natural world. Camden's research places nurserymen at the center of American expansion and ecological imperialism. In addition to a close reading of nurserymen’s letters, publications, and plant catalogues, Camden utilizes big-data and geographic information systems to track the ecological transformation of America. Despite this trade, nurserymen promoted a romantic vision towards the natural world — a vision that asked Americans to slow down, tend their gardens, and bask in the splendor of nature’s beauty. A history of plant nurserymen is a story of lofty dreams, unforeseen ecological consequences, and the heartache associated with business of beauty.
“The Ornament of Empire: Nurserymen and the Making of the American Landscape”
MA, History, University of Rochester, 2015
MA, History, Central Michigan University, 2014
BA, History, University of Utah, 2011
Selected Publication Covers
- Essay in Collection: “A New, 'State of Superior': Political Fracture and Anti-environmentalism in the Upper Midwest,” in The Last Battleground: Conservatism in the American Midwest, 1946-2016 (Forthcoming, University Press of Kansas).
- Essay in Collection: “Close Reading and Coding with the Seward Family Digital Archive: Digital Documentary Editing in the Undergraduate History Classroom,” in Quick Hits: Teaching with the Digital Humanities, edited by Christopher J. Young (Forthcoming, Indiana University Press).
- Article: “A New, Historic Canal: The Making of an Erie Canal Heritage Landscape,” IA: The Journal for the Society of Industrial Archaeology 42, no. 2 (2019): 23 - 34.
- Article: "Scrolling Through Nature: Reflections on the Digital Humanities and Michigan’s Environmental History,” Michigan Historical Review: Special Issue on Environmental Histories of the Great Lakes State 45, no. 1 (2019): 111 - 121.
- Essay in Collection: “In the Land of Hiawatha: Conservation and Literary Sociability in Michigan,” in Pieces of the Heartland: Representing Midwestern Places, edited by Andy Oler (Hastings, Nebraska: Hastings College Press, 2018), 23 – 38.
- Article: “Imagining a Pure Michigan Landscape: Advertisers, Tourists, and the Making of Michigan’s Northern Vacationlands,” Michigan Historical Review 42, no. 2 (2016): 31 - 51.
- Reviews: Camden's book reviews have been published in various journals including the Michigan Historical Review, Environment and Society, the Pacific Northwest Quarterly, New York History, the Hudson River Valley Review, Historical Geography, and the Utah Historical Quarterly. See more here.
- “A Good Nurseryman: Cultures of Capitalism and Environment in Nineteenth-Century America,” presented at American Society for Environmental History Conference, Columbus, Ohio, April 11, 2019.
- “The Ornament of Empire: Visualizing Ecological Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century America,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, Chicago, Illinois, January 6, 2019.
- “Data Visualization Workshop,” led a workshop on RAWGraphs and Esri Story Maps, New York Digital Humanities Symposium, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, December 1, 2018.
- “Digital History as Public History,” invited talk at Central Michigan University, Public History Course, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, September 5, 2018.
- "The Nurseryman, The San Jose Scale, and the Orchard in Gilded Age America," presented at the American Society for Environmental History Conference, Riverside, California, March 15, 2018.
- "Digital Annotations and the Reclusive Wife," presented at the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 21, 2017.
- "Growing ‘Flower City’: Nurserymen and Horticulture in Nineteenth-Century Rochester, New York," presented at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference, Detroit, Michigan, June 24, 2017.
- "Reforming Flour City: The Nurserymen of Rochester, New York, 1840-1860," presented at the Agricultural History Society Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 10, 2017.
- "What is Digital History?" invited talk at Central Michigan University, Museum Studies Program, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, October 24, 2016.
- Lecture for Introduction to Digital Media Studies, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, "Counting and Connecting Relationships in Historical Manuscripts," October 11, 2016.
- "The Changing Natures of Flower City: Nurserymen, Suburbs, and the Changing Landscapes of Rochester, New York," presented at the American Society for Environmental History Conference, Seattle, Washington, March 31, 2016.
- "Digitally Mapping Social Networks of Historical Figures," interview by Evan Dawson, Connections, WXXI AM, November 3, 2015. http://wxxinews.org/post/connections-digitally-mapping-social-networks-historical-figures .
- "In the Name of Hiawatha: Landscapes, Literature, and Environmentalism on the Shores of Lake Superior, 1968-1980," presented at Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference, Moscow, Idaho, June 26, 2015.
- "Environmentalism at the Point of Extraction: Viewpoints, Politics, and Memory in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the Environmental Movement," presented at Michigan Technological University with support from Friends of the Van Pelt Library in Houghton, Michigan, October 14, 2014.
- Lecture for American Environmental History, Finlandia University, Hancock, Michigan, "American Expansion and Environments of Conquest," February 6, 2014.
- "Schoolcraft and the Upper Peninsula," presented at Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan as the Grace H. Magnaghi Research Fellow, October 17, 2013.
- "Northern Michigan in the Gilded Age: Environmental Perceptions and the Rise of a Northern Michigan Vacationland," presented at Great Lakes History Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 11, 2013.
- "Southern Wilderness: Northern Pioneers Within the Confederate South," presented at American Society for Environmental History Graduate Workshop, Toronto, Ontario, April 6, 2013.
- University of Rochester HST 196 - The History of American Capitalism (Fall 2018) Instructor, syllabus
- University of Rochester HST 194 - History of the American Landscape: At the Crossroads of Ecology and Culture (Summer 2016) Instructor, syllabus
- Rochester Institute of Technology HIST 326 - Digital History (Spring 2019) Instructor, syllabus
- University of Rochester HST 235 - Earth, Wind, Water, Fire: An Environmental History of Everywhere (Fall 2017) Teaching Assistant
- University of Rochester HST 258 - Women's Lives in Letters, 1830-1880 (Fall 2016) Teaching Assistant
- Central Michigan University MST 310 - Introduction to Museums (Fall 2013) Teaching Assistant
- Winterthur Museum Garden & Library Short-Term Research Fellowship, Winterthur Museum Garden & Library (2019)
- Grey Towers Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship, Grey Towers Heritage Association (2019)
- The Newberry Library-American Society for Environmental History Fellowship, The Newberry Library (2018-2019)
- Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society (2018-2019)
- Teaching-as-Research Fellowship, University of Rochester, Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (2018)
- HASTAC Scholars Fellowship, Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (2017-2019)
- Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, University of Rochester (2016-2018)
- University Fellowship, University of Rochester (2014-2020)
- University Fellowship, Central Michigan University (2013-2014)
Honors, Awards, and Grants
- Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, University of Rochester Graduate Studies Office (2019)
- ASEH Graduate Caucus Travel Grant, American Society for Environmental History (2019)
- National Science Foundation Travel Grant, In Collaboration with American Society for Environmental History (2018)
- Dexter Perkins Prize, University of Rochester (2017)
- CHAViC Summer Seminar Financial Award, American Antiquarian Society (2016)
- Digital Humanities Summer Institute Scholarship, University of Victoria, British Columbia (2015)
- Michigan Technological University Archives Travel Grant, Michigan Technological University (2014)
- Grace H. Magnaghi Visiting Research Grant, Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives (2013, 2018)
- University Dean of Graduate Studies Travel Grant, University of Rochester (2015)
- Research and Travel Funding, University of Rochester History Department (Spring 2015, Spring 2016)
- Research and Travel Funding, Central Michigan University History Department (Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013)
Digital Humanities Portfolio
- Text Encoding Initiative and Technologies Manager, Seward Family Digital Archive (2015- )
- Research Assistant, University of Rochester, Virtual St. George's (Spring 2017)
- Research Assistant, University of Rochester, Hear UR (Fall 2017)
- Research Assistant, University of Rochester, The William Blake Archive (Spring 2018)