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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arts & culture, food & nutrition, history, popular culture

Elizabeth Nelson In The News

Valentine's Day is an annual holiday that sees people worldwide celebrate love in all forms. The day sees people exchange gifts, words and other expressions of love and affection for each other. But how did Valentine's Day begin and what does St. Valentine have to do with the holiday?
Indy Week
The cliche ideas of Valentine’s Day—the roses, chocolates, and construction paper cards—are not what this collection is about. The history of Valentine's cards is rich: they are the love letters of culture’s past.
Today, February 14 Valentine's Day, which is celebrated with gifts such as red roses, heart chocolates and teddy bears, dates back to a festival celebrated in Ancient Rome in the 6th century BC.The unchanging symbol of February 14, which has passed through various stages and loaded different meanings over time, is love and love.
On Valentine's Day, millions present flowers, chocolates and cards to their sweethearts. While the holiday's traditions really became cemented in the 1800s, historians link its roots to wild pagan revelries from before the birth of Saint Valentine himself.

Articles Featuring Elizabeth Nelson

a teacher and student in a classroom
Campus News | March 7, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting the experts and events at UNLV.

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.