Rachel St John Portrait

Position Title
Associate Professor

SSH 4203


  • Ph.D., History, Stanford University, 2005
  • B.A., History, Stanford University, 1997


Rachel St John’s research focuses on North American history with a particular emphasis on state-formation and nation-building in the nineteenth century. Her first book, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, was published by Princeton University Press in early 2011. Her current book project, The Imagined States of America: The Unmanifest History of Nineteenth-century North America,”explores the diverse range of nation-building projects that emerged across the continent in the 19th century. Originally from California, she taught at New York University and Harvard University before joining the faculty at UC Davis in 2016.

Research Focus

North America; 19th-century; Borderlands; North American West; Environment; Space; the State


“The Unpredictable America of William Gwin: Expansion, Secession, and the Unstable Borders of Nineteenth-century North America,” Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2016)

Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011)

“Divided Ranges: Trans-border Ranches and the Creation of National Space along the Western Mexican-U.S. Border,” in Bridging National Borders in North America, Benjamin Johnson and Andrew Graybill, editors (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010)

“Selling the Border: Trading Land, Attracting Tourists, and Marketing American Consumption on the Baja California Border, 1900-1930,” in Land of Necessity: Consumer Culture in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, Alexis McCrossen, editor (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009)


Early American and U.S. History; 19th-century North America; U.S. West; Transnational Borderlands; U.S.-Mexico Border; Environmental History