Karolyn Smardz Frost, PhD
Department of History & Classics

Phone: (902) 585-1695
Email: ksmardz@acadiau.ca

Karolyn Smardz Frost has recently served as the Harrison McCain Visiting Professor at Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia (2013-2015). She serves as the Senior Research Fellow for the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research in the Global Migrations of African Peoples at York University in Toronto, and is a Fellow of Pierson College at Yale University.  For the 2012-2013 academic year she was Bicentennial Visiting Professor for Canadian Studies at the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. 

An activist historian, her personal mission statement is “preserving the past, to better the present, for the sake of the future.” Karolyn dedicates her career to engaging students in the process of research and sharing the results with the public, and especially youth. A particular goal is ensuring that our rich African Canadian heritage is reflected in Canada’s national narrative.  She holds a BA in archaeology, a Master’s in Classical Studies and a PhD from the University of Waterloo in Race, Slavery and Imperialism.

Karolyn Smardz Frost won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2007 for I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: a Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York) and Thomas Allen Books (Toronto). Critically acclaimed in both the US and Canada I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land was the first entirely original fugitive slave biography since the Civil War. It  tells the gripping tale of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, fugitive slaves from Kentucky whose 1831 flight to freedom made history.

Dr. Smardz Frost is internationally recognized for her work in multiculturalism and anti-racist education through public archaeology and public history. At Acadia University she has recently launched a new project exploring the connections between enslaved African American families transported to Maritime Canada in the years before the American Revolution. She will work closely with African Canadian and African American descendant communities to link families whose ancestors were torn apart by slavery. Karolyn liaises with scholars across North America and beyond, as well as representatives of both the public and private sector, and with professional educators. She regularly consults for museums, government agencies, television, digital media, public history curricula, and instructional media design.

Dr. Smardz Frost has authored numerous articles on history, public history and archaeology. She co-edited the first textbook on educational archaeology, The Archaeology Education Handbook: Sharing the Past With Kids (2000). With historians Adrienne Shadd and Afua Cooper, she co-wrote The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto! (2002), and was guest editor Ontario History (vol. 99, Spring 2007) in honour of the bicentennial of the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Her most recent volume was co-edited with Frederick Armstrong, Hilary Bates Neary and Bryan Walls, and is entitled Ontario’s African Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918-1967 (2009). She also contributes to popular magazines, such as American History and Kentucky Heritage and is currently writing a feature article for the Globe & Mail on the role played by African Canadians during the US Civil War.

A former Executive Director of the Ontario Historical Society, Dr. Smardz Frost has been a guest lecturer at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.; UNESCO speaker at Robbin Island, Cape Town, South Africa, and served as Manager of Public Programming for the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology. Karolyn served as Vice-Chair of the Toronto Historical Board for 6 years and for a decade was Canada’s representative to the World Archaeological Congress. She is a founding member of the education committees of the Society for American Archaeology and the Society for Historical Archaeology.