Sara Lee Silberman
Associate Professor Emeritus of History
Joined Connecticut College: 1996-2006
A.B., Brown University; M.A., Ph.D., John Hopkins University
• The political, social, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history of the United States in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Professor Silberman retired from teaching in 2006.
She most recently taught two intermediate courses that cover the major domestic and diplomatic developments in U.S. history from the Gilded Age to 1963, and colloquia on "The 1960s" and on "The U.S. Since the Vietnam War."
Professor Silberman's research interests centered on the history, theory, and practice of biography as a historical genre.
At the time of her retirement, Silberman was completing a biography of Dr. Edith Banfield Jackson (1895-1977). Jackson graduated from Vassar in 1916 and from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1921. She underwent a remarkably well-documented training analysis with Sigmund Freud from 1930 to 1936 and was among the first participants in Anna Freud's child analysis seminars. Jackson was a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine from 1936 to 1959, where her pioneering work in preventive pediatrics, in "family-centered" maternity and infant care, and in parent-infant "bonding" won her, upon her retirement, prestigious awards from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.
Silberman published "The Curious Pattern of a Distinguished Medical Career: A Psychoanalytic Portrait of Edith Banfield Jackson, M.D." in Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly (1994). Her "Pioneering in Family-Centered Maternity and Infant Care: Edith B. Jackson and the Yale Rooming-In Research Project" appeared in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine in 1990. That piece was reprinted in Philip K. Wilson, ed., Methods and Folklore, vol. 3 of Childbirth: Changing Ideas and Practices in Britain and American: 1600 to the Present (1996). She published a piece on Jackson in a special issue of The Psychoanalytic Review (1998) on "Early American Women Psychoanalysts" and has written entries on Jackson for American National Biography and for a forthcoming volume of Harvard Press' Notable American Women.
Silberman's next project was to edit the twelve-volume daily diary (1888-1899) of Jackson's mother, Helen Banfield Jackson, a Vassar graduate who, at the age of forty in 1899, committed suicide. The diary richly documents the life of an educated, well-to-do matron and mother during the last decade of the nineteenth century; it also details the tragic emotional breakdown of a remarkably loving mother whose suicide left motherless six children under the age of ten years.
Silberman participated in an eight-week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers at the University of California at Berkeley on the topic "Biography: History, Theory, and Practice." She was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women, and in 1981 she was named a Danforth Foundation Associate for her commitment to improving the quality of teaching and learning.