Betsy Wood has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago with a focus on the 19th-century United States. Her academic research examines how the conflict over slavery shaped the development of American labor, law, politics, and ideas on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line for decades after the Civil War. Her work seeks to explain how a deep and abiding antagonism between North and South, rooted in the slavery conflict, shaped the development of American political and ideological divisions in the modern industrial era. Wood's book, "Upon the Altar of Work: Child Labor & the Rise of a New American Sectionalism," (University of Illinois Press; September 2020) is based on her 2011 dissertation, which won the Herbert G. Gutman Prize for Best Dissertation in U.S. Labor History.
Wood has published op-eds in The New York Times that address today’s crisis of poverty and inequality, and she has written dozens of other op-eds for newspapers across the country. In addition to teaching American history, she has worked for various nonprofits including GoodWeave International, The Center for Innovation in Worker Organizing at Rutgers University, and Slave-Free Trade. She also served as a writer and researcher for two years at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank.