Krystyn Moon is a professor of history and American Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is the author of "Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s-1920s" (2005), as well as numerous articles, essays, reviews and blogs on American immigration history and ethnic identity.
Additionally, she has worked as a public historian, collaborating with the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) for several years. As part of this partnership, she has written “Finding the Fort: A History of an African American Neighborhood in Northern Virginia, 1860s-1960s” to assist in the inclusion of African American history in Alexandria’s public programming. She was also the lead historical researcher and interviewer for OHA on “Immigrant Alexandria: Past, Present, and Future,” an oral history project funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Her current research looks at ways in complicating the public’s understanding of the past, especially through her research on race relations and immigration. She is also collaborating with faculty at UNC-Asheville and the University of Havana on a project exploring the impact of the opening of diplomatic relations on food identity and access in Cuba, funded by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.
She recently served as president of the Alexandria Historical Society, and is the past president of the Southeastern Regional Chapter of the American Studies Association. She also directed the American Studies program at UMW for over a decade.
Areas of Expertise (6)
U.S. Immigration History
Race and Ethnic Studies
Gender and Sexuality
Alexandria Historical Society Special Award (African American Waterfront Heritage Trail Committee)
Ben Brenman Award for Archaeology (Fort Ward Interpretative Committee)
UMW Summer Research Grant
Carlton C. Qualey Memorial Article Award (IEHS)
Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Award for ASA-JAAS
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Grant with the Office of Historic Alexandria
CAS Dean’s Faculty Grant
Johns Hopkins University: Ph.D., History 2002
Johns Hopkins University: M.A., History 1999
Pomona College: B.A., American Studies 1997
- Alexandria Historical Society: Past President, Executive Board
- Southern Regional Chapter of the American Studies Association: Past President, Executive Board
- American Studies Association-Japanese Association for American Studies Project: Co-Chair
- African American Maritime Heritage Trail, Office of Historic Alexandria: Co-Chair
- Association for Asian American Studies: Member
- American Historical Association: Member
- American Studies Association: Member
- Organization of American Historians: Member
- Immigration and Ethnic History Society: Member
Media Appearances (4)
Lenox Place at Sunnyside: A small oasis of townhouses tucked away in Alexandria
The Washington Post online
“It is like the world in microcosm,” said Krystyn Moon, professor of history and American studies at University of Mary Washington.
The History of Race, Performance, and Drag Intersect in a Rare Photo of Thomas Dilward
Atlas Obscura online
Professor of History and American Studies Krystyn Moon was interviewed for an article about Thomas Dilward, one of the first African American performers to tour with all-white minstrel troupes that otherwise excluded Black people.
What’s the Vision for the Alexandria Historical Society in 2019?
The Zebra online
“It is my mission to stress that Alexandria history does not end in 1865,” Professor Krystyn Moon, president of the Alexandria Historical Society, said in a recent interview. “This year we will focus on documenting, sharing and celebrating the amazing stories that have occurred in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.”
19th Century Chinese Immigration
Professor Krystyn Moon talked about anti-immigration laws in the 19th century, focusing on Chinese immigrants. She described how an influx of Chinese immigrants on the West Coast during the 1800s led to both local and federal legislation attempting to limit or ban immigrants from China. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal law to target a particular population based on nation of origin.
Event Appearances (8)
Finding a Place to Call Home: Race and Place in Alexandria, Virginia
Equity in Preservation: Office of Historic Alexandria’s Preservation History Month Lecture Series - 2021
Alexandria Housing and Segregationist Practices
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Exploring Systematic Racism Lecture Series - 2021
Race: How was Race Constructed through the Law in Virginia? (with Erin Devlin)
UMW Race and Reality Forum - 2020
Identification and Documentation Tools for African American Historic Places
Preservation Virginia - 2020
Two Racialized Regimes: Everyday Migrations between Virginia and Washington, DC, 1880s- 1920s
American Studies Association Annual Conference - 2019
From Arlandria to Chirilagua: The Remaking of a Northern Virginia Neighborhood, 1960s- 1980s
Episcopal High School’s Community Engagement Program - 2019
Immigration and Exclusion: The Chinese American Experience
UMW ElderStudy - 2019
Where Allies are Key: Student Discussions around American Immigration
Southern Regional Chapter of the American Studies Association Conference - 2019
La Picadora: A Case Study in Cuban AgroecotourismInternational Journal of Cuban Studies
2021 Agroecotourism is growing worldwide, with a Latin American focus on both cultural and environmental sustainability. In this case study, the authors immersed themselves in the seven-year-old agroecotourism venture of La picadora, living among neighbours and conducting formal interviews with 14 persons to learn about agricultural practices, hosting approaches, and the effects of tourism on life at La picadora. Results showed a community practising and committed to sustainable use of land and human resources, and revealed agricultural practices typical of broader Cuba.
African American Heritage TrailOffice of Historic Alexandria
2020 Even before the founding of the City of Alexandria in 1749, Africans and their descendants, enslaved and free, have lived and worked along the waterfront, making significant contributions to the local economy and culture. In the 1820s, Alexandria became home to the largest domestic slave trading firm, which profited from the sale and trafficking of enslaved African Americans from the Chesapeake to the Deep South. The Civil War revolutionized social and economic relations, and newly freed African Americans found new job opportunities as a result of the waterfront’s industrialization.
A Chinese Slave in Alexandria? Melissa Ann Hussey’s Eclectic TrousseauAlexandria Chronicle
2018 In 1857, Captain Samuel Bancroft Hussey purchased a three-story, red brick house (then standing at 617 South Washington Street) as a wedding gift for his only daughter, Melissa Ann Hussey, and her bridegroom, Robert Lewis Wood. The home had been vacant since 1853, when its builder, Reuben Roberts, had died and his widow moved to New Jersey. After a society wedding in New York, the couple returned to Alexandria to live in the home, located on the edge of town. Gay Montague Moore’s bicentennial history of Alexandria, Seaport in Virginia, profiles the Hussey property, including fascinating information about the objects that the bride brought with her from her travels abroad. Moore noted that Melissa Ann had “cages of cockatoos, parakeets, parrots, … a chimpanzee, and a small Chinese slave boy, bought by her father from one of the innumerable sampans in the harbor of Canton.
Asians and Asian Americans and the Performing Arts Prior to World War IIOxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature
2018 Performers of Asian ancestry worked in a variety of venues and media as part of the American entertainment industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some sang Tin Pan Alley numbers, while others performed light operatic works. Dancers appeared on the vaudeville stage, periodically in elaborate ensembles, while acrobats from China, India, and Japan wowed similar audiences. Asian immigrants also played musical instruments at community events. Finally, a small group lectured professionally on the Chautauqua Circuit.
Immigration Restrictions and International Education: Early Tensions in the Pacific Northwest, 1890s-1910sHistory of Education Quarterly
2018 This essay explores the experiences and debates surrounding preparatory schools for Chinese students in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. These institutions attempted to expand educational opportunities for poorer Chinese students who might otherwise not have had a chance to go to school; however, most of these children also had families in the United States, who supported their children's education but also needed their children to work to sustain their families.
Recruited, Excluded, and (Sort of) Included: the Asian American Experience Seen through Short FilmsArlington County Teachers Workshop with 1882 Foundation and funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
The Alexandria YWCA, Race, and Urban (and Ethnic) Revival: The Scottish Christmas Walk, 1960s–1970sJournal of American Ethnic History
2016 Journal of American Ethnic History addresses various aspects of American immigration and ethnic history, including background of emigration, ethnic and racial groups, Native Americans, immigration policies, and the processes of acculturation. Each issue contains articles, review essays and single book reviews.
The African American Housing Crisis in Alexandria, Virginia, 1930s-1960sVirginia Magazine of History and Biography
2016 This article explores housing segregation in mid-twentieth-century Alexandria and the ways in which leaders used public policy to reconfigure local neighborhoods and promote the city as an ideal, white middle-class community. Starting in the late 1930s, it became apparent that African American residents had few decent housing options in Alexandria thanks to a housing shortage combined with racial segregation.
On a Temporary Basis: Immigration, Labor Unions, and the American Entertainment Industry, 1880s–1930sJournal of American History
2012 This article explores the relationships among immigration law, organized labor, and the constructions of race and nationality in the experiences of foreign entertainers who were trying to enter the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. While entertainers came and went throughout this period, they also faced increasing regulation of their movements in part due to anxieties voiced by unions and nativists.
The Quest for Music’s Origin at the St. Louis World’s Fair: Frances Densmore and the Racialization of MusicAmerican Music
2010 In this essay exploring Densmore’s research at the St. Louis World’s Fair we can see how evolutionary racism, American colonialism, and music scholarship intermingled at the beginning of the twentieth century.