SAH Graduate Student Book Group

Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence
Discussion with Dr. Tara Dudley
Friday, March 31, 2023

This program will convene graduate students around a discussion of Dr. Tara Dudley’s Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence. In a seminar format, graduate student attendees will be encouraged to bring thoughts and questions for the author and for one another. Members of the SAH Graduate Student Advisory Committee will moderate the conversation.

Possible topics for discussion include methodology, audience, decisions about organization of the book, and the processes of research. The conversation will also focus on disciplinary issues particular to architectural history, namely regarding evidence, archives, selection of objects of study, visual materials and media, the capacities and limitations of specific methods, and integration of other disciplinary practices or modes of research. The session may also touch on other, more wide-ranging subjects, such as the relationship between Dudley’s own scholarship and pedagogy.

As a program specially targeted toward graduate students, this will be an opportunity to engage with the author of a recently-published book, and thus to learn about the process of developing a book-length study in architectural history. As significantly, it will be a forum for graduate students to connect with one another, to collectively think through ideas of scholarly approaches and relevancy, as well as broader themes regarding the directions and potentials of architectural history today.

Tara DudleyDr. Tara A. Dudley is an assistant professor in The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, where she teaches architectural history and interior design history courses. In her research and scholarship, she engages untold histories and works to demystify the process, paths, and methods of marginalized contributors to the built environment and reassert their historic agency with an emphasis o African American builders and architects in the U.S. South. Her work reflects an interdisciplinary approach to the study of cultural resources with a focus on nineteenth-century American design, African American architectural history, historic preservation, and material culture. She is the author of Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence (University of Texas Press, 2021), winner of the Association of American Publishers 2022 Prose Award in Architecture & Urban Planning, 2022 Summerlee Book Prize in Nonfiction from the Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast), 2022 Best Book Prize from the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH), and the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning 2022 On the Brinck Award.


Dr. Dudley served as a senior architectural historian for Austin-based preservation consulting firm HHM

& Associates, Inc. for two decades and continues to consult on local, regional, and national preservation projects. Dr. Dudley is well-versed in the integration of scholarly inquiry and professional practice and has expertise in the preparation of historic furnishings reports, National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic resource surveys, and interpretive planning for historic sites. She is the current chair of the Texas State Board of Review, the advisory body that advises the State Historic Preservation Officer regarding National Register nominations. Dr. Dudley obtained her master’s (historic reservation) and doctorate (architectural history) degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610