Erin N. Bush

Erin N. Bush

Erin N. Bush

Graduate Research Assistant

U.S. History: 19th & 20th century social history, crime & punishment, digital history & research methods, women's history, Gender & Women's Studies

Erin N. Bush is a recent PhD in United States history. Her research interests revolve around the societal punishments and cultural responses to crime in America, particularly crimes committed by women or children. She has additional teaching interests in United States history after 1870, the history of crime & punishment, women's history, Gender Studies, and digital history.

She is the creator of Death in Diorama: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, an online project which explores the miniature crime scenes created by Frances Glessner Lee, the "mother" of forensic science, in the 1940s and 1950s. She's also an accomplished writer and photographer, with photos recently displayed in the Palais de Tokyo, and the online magazine Mental Floss. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alexandria Historical Society

Prior to returning to finish her doctoral degree, she built a career in technology companies managing Web sites and the creative and technical people responsible for building them. Her technology background has influenced both her own research and her teaching. She received her bachelor’s degree in history and journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her master’s degree in U.S. history from George Mason University.

Current Research

Erin recently defended her dissertation, "Under the Guise of Protection: Sex, Race, and Eugenics in Virginia's Reformatories for Wayward Girls, 1910-1942," which explores the child saving movement in Virginia as it related to other eugenic efforts to stabilize the social order and race relations in the New South. Her dissertation focuses on Virginia's two female juvenile reformatories–then segregated by race–and their management and rehabilitation of wayward girls between 1910 and 1942.

Selected Publications

“Immorality and Male Interference Inside a Girls Reformatory in Virginia,” Southern Cultures, [forthcoming summer 2019].

"'Attracted by the Khaki': War Camps and Wayward Girls in Virginia, 1918–1920," Current Research in Digital History, Vol. 1, 2018. 

Death in Diorama: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 2011. 


Grants and Fellowships

George Mason University, Office of the Provost, Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2018-2019

Courses Taught

Hist 390: The Digital Past
Hist 696: Introduction to History & New Media (Loudoun Extension)
Women's History Since 1890
History of Western Civilization


Graduate Certificate, Women and Gender Studies, George Mason University

MA, History and New Media, George Mason University

JBA, American History and Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Recent Presentations

“Making Bad Girls Good: Eugenics and the Boundaries of Progressive Child Saving in Virginia,” The Virginia Forum 2019, Farmville, Virginia, March 14-16, 2019. Student Paper Award Honorable Mention.

“Teaching with Data: Collaborative Research in the Classroom,” Workshop Co-instructor, Getting Started in Digital History Workshop, 2019 AHA Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, January 3, 2019, with Celeste Tường Vy Sharpe and Jeri Wieringa.

“Teaching History Digitally,” Roundtable Panelist, 2018 OAH Annual Meeting, Sacramento, California, April 12-14, 2018.

"'Attracted by the Khaki': Warcamps and Wayward Girls in Virginia, 1918-1920," Current Research in Digital History, George Mason University, 2018

"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Executions of Women in the U.S. Women’s History in the Digital World, Bryn Mawr, 2013

In the Media

“The Dollhouses of Death that Changed Forensic Science,” Vox Media, October 2017.

Mistress of Death Interview: Erin Bush, Death in Diorama, Fangirl Nation Magazine, July 5, 2014.