James Ambuske

James Ambuske

James Ambuske

U.S. History: Era of the American Revolution; the British Atlantic World; Scotland and the Scottish Atlantic; Transatlantic Law; Digital History; Podcasting

Jim Ambuske is Co-Head of R2 Studios, the podcast division of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. At R2 Studios, Ambuske produces, creates, and hosts narrative history podcasts for general audiences. He is the executive producer of The Green Tunnel Podcast, and is the creator, writer, and narrator of Worlds Turned Upside Down, a podcast about the history of the American Revolution. 

Ambuske's scholarship centers on the era of the American Revolution, with a special interest in Scottish emigration during the period, Loyalism and transatlantic law, the British Atlantic world more broadly, and digital history. He is the co-director of the 1828 Catalogue Project, which reconstructs and interprets the legal texts that Thomas Jefferson selected for the university’s original library, and the Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Project, a multi-institutional transatlantic effort to explore everyday life in early America and the British Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through the printed records of Scotland’s supreme civil court. His work has benefited from the generosity of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s Georgian Papers Programme, and the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia. 

Prior to joining R2 Studios, Ambuske led the Center for Digital History at George Washington's Mount Vernon. There he served as editor of the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, co-produced the League of the Descendants of the Mount Vernon Enslaved Oral History Project, and collaborated with the Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library on ARGO: American Revolutionary Geographies Online, among many other projects. He is the former producer and host of the podcast, Conversations at the Washington Library, and with Jeanette Patrick, co-created and co-wrote the narrative documentary series, Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Before Mount Vernon, Ambuske was the Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital History at the University of Virginia Law Library, where he co-developed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Project


Current Research

The Fury of Emigration: Scotland, the American Revolution, and the Fate of Empire. Book manuscript project under consideration by the University of Virginia Press.

Worlds Turned Upside Down: A History of the American Revolution. Podcast series in production at R2 Studios. 

Selected Publications

“The law of loyalism: The Campbell family, the court of session, and the price of loyalty in the revolutionary Atlantic world,” Atlantic Studies (2023), DOI: 10.1080/14788810.2023.2240948.

With Jeanette Patrick, Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Podcast documentary series, November 2021). www.georgewashingtonpodcast.com

“Mourning Thomas Jefferson’s Estranged Father.” Georgian Papers Programme Blog, 29 January 2020, https://georgianpapers.com/2020/01/29/mourning-thomas-jeffersons-estranged-father/

“‘Ours is a Court of Papers’: Exploring Scotland and the British Atlantic World using the Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Project,” International Review of Scottish Studies, 44 (2019): 10-19. 10.21083/irss.v44i0.5883.

with Randall Flaherty, “Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson” in The Founding of Mr. Jefferson’s University, edited by John A. Ragosta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019).

with Randall Flaherty and Loren S. Moulds, “Recovering Hidden Histories of Early America and the British Atlantic World with the Scottish Court of Session Records Digital Archive,” Scottish Archives, 24 (2018): 26-42. https://uploads.documents.cimpress.io/v1/uploads/c9edf4df-93a4-4ac3-9d0b-fe0eb1af0dea~110/original?tenant=vbu-digital.

“One is the Loneliest Number Among the Few and the Many: A Review of Richard Alan Ryerson, John Adams’s Republic: The One, The Few, and the Many” in Reviews in American History, 45, no. 4 (2017): 576-581. 10.1353/rah.2017.0084.

“The Admiral and the Aide-de-Camp: The Revolutionary War Correspondence of Sir Samuel Hood and Jacob de Budé.” Georgian Papers Programme Blog, 3 May 2017. https://georgianpapers.com/2017/05/03/the-admiral-and-the-aide-de-camp/


Ph.D., History, University of Virginia 

M.A., Origins and History of the United States, Miami University

B.A., History and Political Science, Miami University

Recent Presentations

“Scottish Immigrants & the American Economy”
The George Washington Teacher’s Institute: George Washington’s Mount Vernon, July 20, 2023

“The Long Tail of Loyalism” – Loyalism and Memory: A Roundtable on the Place of Loyalist Stories in the Coming 2026 Anniversary
Annual Meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Philadelphia: July 15, 2023

“Jefferson and George III” – A Life in Letters: A Celebration of Dr. Barbara Oberg, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia: June 7, 2023

“Scotland, Loyalism, and the American Revolution”
 2023 Tartan Day Symposium
 Washington, D.C., April 6, 2023

“I Cannot Tell a Lie: George Washington and the Cherry Tree”
 Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Children of the American Revolution
 Arlington, VA: February 18, 2023

Panel Chair: The Pieces of Podcasting You Don’t Know but Should
Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association
Philadelphia, PA: January 6, 2023

“Archibald McCall’s American Revolution” Scottish Freemasons in America, 1750–1800
The George Washington National Masonic Memorial
Alexandria, VA: November 5, 2022

“Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington’s Mount Vernon”
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello 
Charlottesville, VA: September 14, 2022
Featured Speaker with Jeanette Patrick

“The Music of the American Revolution” 
Crafting Narratives of Empire
2022 Institute for Thomas Paine Studies Annual Conference
Iona University (NY): 22 September 2022


In the Media

'Patrick Henry and John Adams: American Revolutionaries"
Livestream conversation with Dr. Sara Georgini co-sponsored by Patrick Henry's Red Hill and the Massachusetts Historical Society, 21 February 2023.

"Flora MacDonald - An 18th Century Life in 2 Revolutions"
People Hidden in History hosted by Kathleen Langone, 31 December 2022.

“King-Size Disappointment, with Dr. Jim Ambuske” 
Stopping to Think hosted by Will Dole, 21 June 2022.

“Scottish Court of Session Project: Learning from Legal Archives with Jim Ambuske”
The Quill Project Conventions Podcast hosted by Dr. Grace Mallon, 13 May 2022.

“Jim Ambuske, Digital Historian at the George Washington Library at Mount Vernon, and Podcast Host and Producer” 
Success InSight hosted by Howard A. Fox, 18 March 2022. 

“An American Revolution with Jim Ambuske”
Beautiful Bastards Podcast hosted by Griz and Gerry, 22 February 2022.

“Enslavement at Mount Vernon: A Conversation with Dr. Jim Ambuske”
Inclusive History hosted by Erica Kennedy, 20 February 2022.

“History of Pandemics with Ph.D. holder Jim Ambuske”
TAO Podcast: The Pandemic Press hosted by Rashni Hewawasam, 21 September 2021. 

“Washington Library’s Dr. Jim Ambuske and Jeanette Patrick: The Whiskey Rebellion” Whiskey Lore: The Interviews hosted by Drew Hannush, 25 August 2021.

“Episode 1: Podcasts”
Public History in a Virtual Age hosted by Dr. Lindsey Chervinsky,
28 September 2020.

“Begin The World Again A Newe”
Your Most Obedient & Humble Servant hosted by Kathryn Gehred, 13 October 2020,

George III: The Genius of The Mad King (BBC), 2017
Also available on Amazon Prime

The Hector: From Scotland to Nova Scotia (BBC Scotland), 2017