Whilst studying economic and social history with Samuel P. Hays and David Montgomery at the University of Pittsburgh I devised and taught one of the first women’s history courses in the United States. After moving to England I worked as a Senior Research Officer at the ESRC Data Archive and as a temporary lecturer in Economic History at the London School of Economics before being appointed as Head of American Studies at West London Institute of Higher Education.
When WLIHE merged with Brunel I became Head of the Department of American Studies and History, and then Professor of American History in 1998. I served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (2002-2003). My interest in trans-national American history led to my founding the Centre for American, Transatlantic and Caribbean History and the Society for History of Women in the Americas. As Chairperson of Society for the History of Women in the Americas, I am co-convenor of the Gender and History in the Americas Seminar at the Institute for Historical Research and editor of History of Women in the Americas. My research on women in the twentieth-century US remains ongoing.
My research focuses on the impact of economic and social change on women’s roles inside and outside the home, principally in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in distinctive urban settings such as Pittsburgh, Fall River and Baltimore. I investigate how diverse economic structures led to distinctive gendered social welfare and child labour policies in those cities. My present research is on how middle-aged women’s lives changed during the twentieth century and women’s migration patterns within the Americas, primarily between Cuba and the US. I have edited collections on the historiography of women, the Journal of American Studies, and History of Women in the Americas.