Joan E. Cashin is a professor of history at Ohio State University, specializing in social, economic, and cultural history from the Revolution through the Civil War. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991); First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War (2006), winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York; and War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War (2018), winner of the Best Book Award from the Ohio Academy of History. She is also the editor of War Matters: Material Culture in the Civil War Era (2018); The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002); Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996); and Clotel, or the President's Daughter (1996), a novel by Williams Wells Brown.
The Shelby family was deeply involved in the history of Kentucky beginning in the colonial era. The first governor, Isaac, was a Revolutionary War hero, and his descendants played prominent roles in the state's history. The family generated a huge amount of documents as well as many material objects, and their correspondence reveals a complex, nuanced understanding of the importance of the physical world in human history. Their perspectives add to our understanding of environmental history and material culture from the Revolution through the 19th century.