Matthew McKenzie

Matthew McKenzie, associate professor of history, University of CTPh.D., New Hampshire
Associate Professor of History
American Studies Program Coordinator
Connecticut Obligatory Delegate, New England Fisheries Management Council

Office: Avery Point Campus, Academic Building, Rm 114C
Phone: (860) 405-9270
Fax: (860) 486-0641

Recent CV


Areas of Specialty

Marine environmental history, eighteenth and nineteenth century American social and labor history; maritime history; history of tourism and working waterfronts.

Current Research Interests

“Breaking the Banks: Cultural Representation and Environmental Catastrophe on Georges Bank, 1872-1945.”

The collapse of the Georges Bank fisheries in the late 1980s and early 1990s represents one of the most shocking stories of humanity’s ability to exhaust even the most robust ecosystem. To date, however, most explanations of that catastrophe have focused on the actions of fishermen, scientists, and regulators since World War II. “Breaking the Banks” uncovers the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century cultural and social origins of that collapse, and challenges us to recognize the long-term role that American society, writ large, played in this environmental disaster.

Selected Publications

Matthew McKenzie, “Modernity and Marine Environmental History: Cultural Influences on the Mechanization of the Georges Bank Fisheries, 1905-1912.” In John Gillis and Franziska Torma (eds.), Fluid Frontiers (LSU Press, forthcoming).

Matthew McKenzie, “The Widening Gyre: Rethinking the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Collapse, 1850-2000.” In Heidbrink and Starkey, eds., A History of the North Atlantic Fisheries, Volume II: The Modern Period. Deutsche Shiffartsmuseum, Bremerhaven, Germany, (2012).

McKenzie, Matthew G., “Fisheries and Fishing.” Hugh Slotten, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology (forthcoming, 2013).

Matthew McKenzie, “Iconic Fishermen and the Fates of New England Fisheries Regulations, 1883-1912.” Environmental History 17 (January 2012), pp. 3–28.

McKenzie, Matthew. Clearing the Coastline: The Nineteenth Century Ecological and Cultural Transformation of Cape Cod (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, January, 2011).

McKenzie, Matthew G., “Baiting Our Memories: The Impact of Offshore Technology Change on the Species Around Cape Cod, 1860-1895.” In David Starkey, Poul Holm, and Michaela Barnard (eds.), OceansPast: Management Insights from the History of Marine Animal Populations (London: EarthScan Press, 2007), pp. 77-89.

Randall R. Reeves, Matthew G. McKenzie, and Tim D. Smith, “History of Bermuda shore whaling, mainly for humpback whales,” Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, vol. 8, no 1. (2006), pp. 33-43.

McKenzie, Matthew G., “Navigating Federalism: Federalists, the Boston Marine Society, and the Establishment of Federal Authority in Boston, 1789-1792.”  Northern Mariner/Le Marin du Nord vol. XVI, no. 3 (July, 2006), pp. 1-14.

Claesson, Stefan C., and Matthew McKenzie, for Andy Rosenberg (PI), “Stellwagen Bank Marine Historical Ecology, Phase I: Historical Sources Survey Report.” Prepared for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Contract/Grant No. NA04NO54290190 (2005).

Rosenberg, Bolster, Alexander, Leavenworth and McKenzie, “The history of ocean resources: modeling cod biomass using historical records.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 3, no. 2 (2005), pp. 78-84.

McKenzie, Matthew G., “Salem as Athenaeum: Academic Learning and Vocational Knowledge in the Early Republic,” in Morrison, Dane Anthony, and Nancy Lusignan Schultz, eds. Salem: Place, Myth and Memory (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004).

McKenzie, Matthew G., “Vocational Science and the Politics of Independence: The Boston Marine Society, 1754-1812.” PhD Dissertation, University of New Hampshire (2003).


McKenzie took his PhD in Maritime History from the University of New Hampshire in 2003. As a PhD candidate, he worked with UNH’s Gulf of Maine Cod Project, an interdisciplinary team of historians and fisheries scientists exploring ecological change in the 19th century Scotian Shelf cod-fishery. In 2003, McKenzie began teaching Maritime Studies at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., during which time he sailed offshore in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in US and Canadian waters. At sea, he continued his courses while also filling in as Assistant Engineer, deckhand, and science deck lackey. He came to UConn’s Avery Point campus in August, 2006, where his position as American Studies Program Coordinator has pulled his interests closer inshore.

McKenzie’s book, Clearing the Coastline: The Nineteenth Century Ecological and Cultural Transformation of Cape Cod (University Press of New England, 2011) explores perceived changes in nineteenth century southern New England’s inshore marine ecology; fishermen’s and scientists’ responses to those changes; and how these economic and ecological transformations helped create the modern tourist communities of the early twentieth century.

Conference Presentations

“Trusts in Cod: Waterfront Access and Colonizing Boston’s Marine Environment, 1890-1914.” American Society for Environmental History, Madison, Wisconsin, 29 March 2012.

“Cape Cod’s Historic Lessons for the Future of Marine Resource Management,” Environmental Defense Fund Inc., Boston, Mass., 22 March 2012.

“Modernity and Marine Environmental History: Cultural Influences on the Mechanization of Georges Bank Fisheries, 1905-1912.” Final Frontiers Conference. Island Institute and LMU Munich Rachel Carson Center, Rockland, Maine, October 2011.

“Integrating History into Modern Ecology: The Challenges of Blending Past and Present Marine Ecosystems.” University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth Division of Fisheries and Oceans Seminar Series, Fairhaven, Mass., 20 April 2011.

“Recovering the Coastal Dialog: Science and the Humanities in Marine Environmental History.” SUNY Stony Brook Humanities Institute Coastlines Lecture Series, Stony Brook, New York, 10 and 11 March 2011.

“Iconic Fishermen and the Fates of New England Fisheries Regulations, 1883-1918.” Massachusetts Historical Society, Environmental History Seminar; Boston, Mass., 12 October 2010.

“Vanishing Fish, Erased Fishermen: Cultural Celebration and Ecological Decline on the Cape Cod Shore, 1840-1870.” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, 9 January 2010, San Diego, California, USA.

“When Declining Fisheries Came Ashore: Ecological Decline and the Advent of Tourism on Cape Cod, 1860-1910.”  Oceans Past II: The History of Marine Animal Populations Project (HMAP) Annual Meeting, 26 May 2009, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“The Virus of Tourism: Ecological Decline and Social Dislocation on Cape Cod, 1870-1900.”  North American Society for Oceanic History Annual Meeting, 15 May 2009, Vallejo, California, USA.

“Science and the Political Economy of an Industrialized Fishery: An Ecosystem-Based Study of the 19th-Century Southern New England Inshore Fishery.”  American Historical Association Annual Meeting, 2 January 2009, New York, New York, USA.

“Science and the Political Economy of an Industrialized Fishery: An Ecosystem-Based Study of the 19th Century Southern New England Inshore Fishery.” North Atlantic Fisheries History Association Conference, 19 September, 2007, Bergen, Norway.

“Speaking for the Fish: Local Authority, Fisheries Science, and the Crusade to Privatize the Southern New England Anadromous Fisheries, 1866-1878.” American Society of Environmental History, Minneapolis, MN, March 29-April 2, 2006.

“Baiting our Memories: Offshore Technology Change and Their Impacts on Inshore Species around Cape Cod, 1860-1895.” Oceans Past I, Kolding, Denmark, October 24-27, 2005.

Panel Organizer: “Knowing the Oceans.” Three Societies’ Meeting, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August, 6-8, 2004.

“Vocational Science and Fishermen as Historic Ecological Indicators.” Northeast Fisheries Science Center, February 3, 2004.