Ryan K Smith, PhD

Ryan Smith photo

Professor, America
rksmith3@vcu.edu
(804) 828-9932

Ryan K. Smith received a PhD in American Civilization from the University of Delaware and an MA in History from the College of William and Mary. He specializes in American religious history, material culture, and more recently, historic preservation. Currently he is finishing a book project on the history and recovery of the burial grounds of Richmond, Virginia, tentatively titled "Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond's Historic Cemeteries." He has created a website dedicated to the topic, showcasing student work at http://www.richmondcemeteries.org.

His interest in early American art led him to complete an "architectural biography" of Robert Morris, an essential yet overlooked figure from the Revolutionary era who plunged from the peaks of wealth into debtors' prison in 1798. Entitled Robert Morris's Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder (Yale University Press, 2014), this book explores the role of Morris's extraordinary attempt to build a palace in Philadelphia, designed by famed engineer P. C. L'Enfant, in his downfall.
 
Dr. Smith is also the author of Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses: Anti-Catholicism and American Church Designs in the Nineteenth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), which traces the surprising artistic exchange which took place beneath Protestant/Catholic hostilities in the early American republic.
 
Dr. Smith has expertise in public history, having worked at the Library of Virginia, the Winterthur Museum, the St. Augustine Historical Society, and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, among other institutions.
 
For a recent web project coauthored with students see "The Judah Will" at http://judahwill.rampages.us/