Ashley Johnson Bavery

A photo of Ashley Johnson Bavery

Associate Professor

History and Philosophy

701T Pray-Harrold


[email protected]


  • Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • BA, Mount Holyoke College

Interests and Expertise

Ashley Johnson Bavery is a historian of American immigration and ethnicity, urban space and foreign policy in twentieth-century America. Her book Bootlegged Immigrants: Politics and Policy on America's Northern Border explores how undocumented immigration in Detroit, America's epicenter for illegal immigration before World War II, created the framework for America's contemporary immigration system. In the first half of the twentieth century, the border separating the world's automobile capital, Detroit, Michigan, from Windsor, Ontario marked North America's number one site for undocumented immigration, and the migrants in question were European, not Latino or Asian. By bringing the U.S.-Canada border to the larger history of North American immigration, her manuscript uncovers the roots of America's impetus to close its borders while simultaneously keeping them open to free trade and commerce. Nearly a century before President Donald Trump called for a border wall with Mexico, businesses, politicians, and immigrants on the U.S.-Canada border pushed certain Europeans toward illegal labor in America's automobile industry, helping build a system of policing and deportation that continues on the U.S.-Mexico border today. Her work has also appeared in the Journal of Urban HistoryLabour/Le Travail, and Reviews in American History. She has started work on a second project that investigates early Muslim immigration to the Midwest.


  • HIST 124 The United States 1877 to Present
  • HIST 205: American Immigration and Ethnic History
  • HIST 300W: Researching and Writing History
  • HIST 426 U.S. History 1963-present
  • HIST 440/540: The History of Detroit
  • HIST 585 Studies in Twentieth Century United States History
  • HIST 592: U.S. Foreign Policy / The United States and the World

Publications and Presentations

  • Bootlegged Immigrants: Politics and Policy on America's Northern Border (University of Pennsylvania Press, September 2020).
  • "Crashing America's Back Gate: Illegal Europeans, Policing, and Welfare in Detroit, 1921–1939," Journal of Urban History, June 23, 2016.