Wright Kennedy is a postdoctoral research scholar in the History Department at Columbia University. His primary areas of interest include the integration of spatial perspectives into the study of nineteenth-century health, communities, and environments. While earning his master’s degree in geography from California State University, Long Beach, he specialized in geographic information sciences and spatial analysis. His master’s thesis used historical geographic information systems (HGIS) to uncover the spatial origins and spreading patterns of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. From 2012 to 2015 he served as the project manager for the imagineRio project at Rice University. He earned a doctorate in history from Rice University. His dissertation, entitled “Lowering Mortality: A Spatial History of Segregation, Environments, and Mortality Transitions in New Orleans, 1880–1915,”  employed HGIS to argue that segregationist efforts not only created a system of social and economic oppression (Jim Crow), but these efforts created a deeply embedded system of oppression at the intersection of disease, environment, and landscape. The dissertation was a component of the larger New Orleans Mortality Project. This research project employs HGIS to identify and analyze the spatial and temporal patterns of disease and socioeconomics at the individual, neighborhood, and community levels to understand how health, environment, and socioeconomics impact urban and community development.

Currently, he is the project lead on the Historical New York City (HNYC) mapping project at Columbia University. HNYC examines the development of immigrant communities and the urban ecology of the city between 1850 and 1940.



May 2017 – Rice Magazine included the New Orleans Mortality Project in the featured article, “Mapping the Questions.”

Mapping the Questions

March 2017Southern Spaces published “The Potential of Historical GIS and Spatial Analysis in the Humanities,” part of Emory University’s “MAP IT | Little Dots, Big Ideas” lecture series