My Story

I came to Warren Wilson in 1996 and spent 25 wonderful years teaching history and political science before retiring at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.  Although my heart will always be in the classroom, I continue my research on German-speaking migrants who came to North America in the eighteenth-century.  Currently I am working on a book that will tell the story of emigrants from the Swiss Alps and the German Rhineland who came together to found the town of New Bern, North Carolina in 1710.


  • B. A. in History, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.S. in Education, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A. in History, Cambridge University
  • M.A. in International Relations, Johns Hopkins University
  • Ph.D. in History, University of Iowa

Research Interests

  • German and Swiss migration to colonial America
  • Cultural contact in early America
  • The eighteenth-century Atlantic World

Courses Taught

  • HIS 3400: Conflict and Community in Early America
  • HIS 2700: Modern German History
  • PSC 2570: International Relations

Crews and Other Activities

  • Public history and genealogy, which has given me the chance to appear on several episodes of the nationally-televised program "Who Do You Think You Are?"
  • National Endowment for the Humanities review board for fellowships in American History

Contact Dr. Otterness

Download CV