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Professor emerita of History and Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, Amherst College

My teaching interests, like my research, began with and still embrace women's history and gender. I try to integrate both into my other interests, which include Colonial North America and the U.S. up to the Civil War, the Old South and African American and Native American history. Students in one of my history courses have worked to improve selected Wikipedia articles, particularly as to gender and racial equity. A colleague and I developed a course on human rights in historical perspective and with an emphasis on gender. For a number of gratifying years, I taught in the Inside/Out program at the Hampshire County Jail in which Amherst students met with equal numbers of incarcerated students to learn together for a semester.
My published work has ranged from the seventeenth century to the nineteen fifties and includes biographies of the actress, Jayne Mansfield, the writer, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Ball Washington, the first president's mother, as well as a study of American women's moral values in three communities before the Civil War, called Being Good.


  • –present
    Professor of History and Sexuality, Amherst College


Bunting Scholar (Radcliffe College); Cullman Fellow (New York Public Library); Patrick Henry Fellow, (Starr Center)