Sarah Keyes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, History
Sarah Keyes
she, her, hers


Sarah Keyes is a historian of the United States. She specializes in the 19th century and the history of the U.S. West with a focus on the environment and intercultural interactions between Indigenous peoples and Euro-Americans. Her current work explores these topics along the overland trails to Oregon and California in the mid-19th century. Her first book, American Burial Ground: A New History of the Overland Trail, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in October 2023. Keyes has also begun work on her second project, a regional and transnational study of suffrage in the U.S. West, for which she was recently awarded a Mellon-Schlesinger Summer Research Grant from the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University.

Research specialties

  • 19th century U.S. history
  • U.S. West
  • Environmental history

Public appearances


  • American Burial Ground: A New History of the Overland Trail (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023).
  • “From Stories to Salt Cairns: Uncovering Indigenous Influence in the Formative Years of the Oregon Historical Society, 1898-1905,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, (Summer 2020).
  • "Western Adventurers and Male Nurses: Indians, Cholera, and Masculinity in Overland Trail Narratives," The Western Historical Quarterly, (Spring 2018).
  • "'Like a Roaring Lion': The Overland Trail as a Sonic Conquest," Journal of American History (June 2009): 19-43.

Courses taught

Keyes offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes that focus on the history of the 19th century United States, the United States West, the environment and Indigenous peoples. In addition to these topics, she is also interested in gender, migration, the senses, memory and spatial history.


  • Ph.D., University of Southern California
  • B.A., Pomona College