Elizabeth Nelson

Associate Professor of History
Graduate Coordinator, Department of History
Expertise: 19th-Century Popular Culture, Civil War and Reconstruction, U.S. Cultural History, Antebellum America, Food History, Historical Evolution of Marketing and Advertising


Elizabeth Nelson is an associate professor of history who specializes in pop culture and advertising in the 19th century, as well as food history.

Her research areas include American history on the National Period; the Civil War and Reconstruction; 19th-century cultural and intellectual history; cultural theory; and the relationship between political economy, domestic economy and national identity in the antebellum United States.

Nelson, who has taught courses at UNLV since 1996, is the author of Market Sentiments: Middle-Class Market Culture in 19th-Century America (Smithsonian Books, 2004), as well as a contributor to The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class (Routledge, 2000).


  • Ph.D., American Studies, Yale University
  • M. Phil, American Studies, Yale University
  • M.A ., American Studies, Yale University
  • A.B ., The Growth and Structure of Cities, Bryn Mawr College

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Elizabeth Nelson In The News

February 15, 2021
Pets, spouses, co-workers, friends, classmates: They’re all in line to be on the receiving end of another record year for Valentine’s Day spending, says a new survey by the National Retail Federation.
February 14, 2020
Today is Valentine's Day, and while you may be celebrating with flowers and chocolates, we want to give you a little history lesson. Joining us with more is Elizabeth Nelson is a 19th-century pop culture expert and author who for 30 years has been studying the marketing surrounding holidays. She's available to help separate facts about the effects of advertising, consumerism, and social media on the evolution of Valentine's Day from fiction about love's golden age.
February 12, 2020
BYU Radio/ Top of Mind with Julie Rose interviews Elizabeth Nelson, PhD, UNLV Pop Culture Expert and Author. Parents across the country are in Valentine’s Day scramble-mode, rounding up enough treats and cards for all their kids’ classmates. Holidays are such work for parents. And expensive too–the National Retail Federation says Americans who celebrate Valentine’s this year plan to spend nearly $200 on average. That includes gifts for a special someone, but also kids, friends, family members, co-workers and pets. Valentine’s Day, above all, is a triumph of marketing.

Articles Featuring Elizabeth Nelson

1910s woman sitting in vintage car with large cardboard heart that reads: Your Ad Here
Research | February 5, 2020
UNLV history professor Elizabeth Nelson separates facts about the effects of marketing, consumerism, and social media on the holiday's evolution from fiction about love's golden age.