Blatchford, Barrie

Field: United States; Advisor: Jacoby; Year: 2017

I am a historian of American environmental history with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I hold a BA (Hons) and MA in History from the University of British Columbia, and an MPhil from Columbia University. My dissertation, provisionally entitled “Unnatural Selection,” analyzes animal “acclimatization” – the intentional introduction of non-indigenous species – in America from the late nineteenth century through to the mid-twentieth. This massive bioengineering movement permanently added several new species – carp, pheasants, quails, sparrows, starlings – and millions of individual creatures to American landscapes. In studying it, I argue that historians have failed to appreciate the magnitude of animal acclimatization, as well as the civilizational, nation-building terms in which Americans understood it.

Beyond my doctoral work, I maintain an avid interest in the history of the life sciences, the history of the conservation and animal rights movements, and American political history writ large.

My dissertation research has been generously funded by the Smithsonian Institution, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Hagley Museum and Library, the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, and by Columbia University. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Tina and Morris Wagner Foundation Fellowship during my MA.

I welcome any inquiries about my work, and any outreach from prospective graduate students considering studying at Columbia. I can be reached at

For more about me and my work, see my personal website:



“‘Make the Desert Blossom Like the Rose’: Animal Acclimatization, Settler Colonialism, and the Construction of Oregon’s Nature.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, 122:3 (Fall 2021): 214-249.

* Winner of the 2022 Fishel-Calhoun Article Prize from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Public History:

“Dispatches from ‘Anthropoid Ellis Island’: New York City’s More-Than-Human-History.” The Gotham Center for New York City History  Blog. March 25, 2021.

Book Reviews:

Review of Jeremy Zallen, American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750- 1865. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. In Environment and History. Forthcoming.

Review of Ariel Ron, Grassroots Leviathan: Agricultural Reform and the Rural North in the Slaveholding Republic. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020. In Agricultural History Vol. 96, 1-2 (2022): 291-293.

Review of Steven Turner, The Science of James Smithson: Discoveries from the Smithsonian Founder. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2020. In Isis Vol. 113, 2 (2022): 445-446.

Review of David J. Nelson, How the New Deal Built Florida Tourism: The Civilian Conservation Corps and State Parks. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2019. Journal of Tourism History Vol. 13, 1 (2021): 101-103.