Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History
Joined Connecticut College: 1987
B.A., Franklin and Marshall College; M.A., Ph.D., Temple University
Colonial British North America
Contact Lisa Wilson
Lisa Wilson sees herself as a colonial historian with an interest in gender. Her research interests include comparative gender studies and more recently, the history of the family.
Professor Wilson is working on a study of eighteenth-century stepfamily life. She has received two fellowships toward the completion of this project, tentatively titled,“Cinderella’s Family.” She was a Long-Term, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Massachusett Historical Society in 2006-2007. In May, 2010, she was also awarded an American Antiquarian Society/National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellowship for the 2010-2011 academic year. She argues with the modern notion that stepfamilies are the unique burden of the present. They were, in fact, quite common in the historical past. The stories of early American stepfamilies provide us with insights about our own families today.
Her first book, Life After Death: Widows in Pennsylvania, 1750-1850 (Temple University Press, 1992), focused on women's history. A part of this project was an article, "A 'Man of Business': The Widow of Means in Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1750-1850," that received the first Richard L. Morton Award from the William and Mary Quarterly (1987). As she states, men and women lived and worked together in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. They spent most of their time in a domestic world, both private and public, both female and male. Professor Wilson is interested in how men and women interacted within this context and defined their roles based on this interaction.
Her second book, Ye Heart of a Man: The Domestic Life of Men in Colonial New England, (Yale University Press, 1999) grew from her interest in comparative gender studies. This project won two awards: the 2000 Homer D. Babbidge, Jr. Award from the Association for the Study of Connecticut History for the best work on a significant aspect of Connecticut history and the Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society) book award for the best "subsequent" book published by a member of the organization. Wilson received two major fellowships to complete this project: the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities, and a Charles Warren Center Fellowship, both at Harvard University.
Professor Wilson was featured as a commentator in the History Channel's original documentary, "Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower," presented for the first time on the History Channel on Nov. 19, 2006. This film is still shown on Thanksgiving on the History Channel and regularly at the Plimouth Plantation Museum.
She is an honorary member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.
Professor Wilson teaches, at present: a first-year seminar, Walking in Their Shoes: Early American Inhabitants of New London, Connecticut, FYS 109e; Introduction to the History of the United States, 105; The Colonial History of North America, 203; The American Revolutionary Era, 204; The History of Women and Gender in the United States, History, 242; and Puritan New England, 493/4b.
She was the Class of 1964 Associate Professor from 1994-95 and 1995-1996, Director of the Gender and Women's Studies Program from 1993-1994, and chair of her department from 1998-2001. She has also served as the Chair and as a member of various college committees.
View the history department website.
"Love my children for my sake, and wisely and carefully Educate and Govern them with the Authority and Tenderness of a natural Parent." - Thomas Clap, 1737