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EIHS Lecture: "Mopboards and Meetinghouses: Charting Geographies of Labor in Federal New England"
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Abstract: In this contemplation of women and work in Hadley, Massachusetts, Professor Miller will explore how the close observation of landscape and material culture illuminates the lives of working women in the decades after the American Revolution. How can microgeographies of working women's worlds, in the workplace and in their communities, illuminate the evolution of capitalism in rural America? How can baseboards, soot stains, floor plans and pew charts reveal how relationships between "place" (geography/landscape/material environments) and "place" (society/class/status) altered, even in rural New England?
Marla R. Miller is Professor of History and Director of the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her primary research interest is U.S. women's work before industrialization. Her book, The Needle's Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution, appeared from the University of Massachusetts Press in August 2006, and won the Costume Society of America's Millia Davenport Publication Award for the best book in the field for that year. In 2009 she published an edited collection, Cultivating a Past: Essays in the History of Hadley, Massachusetts, also with the University of Massachusetts Press. Her most recent book, Betsy Ross and the Making of America (Holt, 2010) -- a scholarly biography of that much-misunderstood early American craftswoman -- was a finalist for the Cundill Prize in History at McGill University (the world's largest non-fiction historical literature prize), and was named to the Washington Post's "Best of 2010" list. Her most recent publication, a short biography of Massachusetts gownmaker Rebecca Dickinson, appeared in the Westview Press series Lives of American Women in summer 2013. She is presently completing work on a microhistory of women, work and landscape in Federal Massachusetts.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.