- Associate Professor. M.A., Ph.D., History, University of Pennsylvania.
B.A., History, Yale University.
- Curriculum Vitae
- SBS S-311
- Research Interests
- My focus is on early American history, in particular the period of the Early Republic (loosely, the 1780s-1850s), but my teaching spans the colonial period through the Civil War. My teaching and research interests examine the organization of work, business and the economy, including: entrepreneurship and small business; free and slave labor; household production and gender work roles; comparative industrialization; the relationship between legal institutions and social and economic developments; and commerce and capitalism.
My current research examines early industrial pollution in the Greater Delaware River Valley (Pennsylvania) in the first half of the nineteenth century. It draws on legal, business and visual sources to explore how urban residents came to grips with and fashioned the rapidly industrializing environment around them. This work has been supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Program in Early American Economy and Society at The Library Company of Philadelphia, a Scholar-in-Residence Grant from the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission, a Gordon Cain Postdoctoral Fellowship in Technology, Policy and Entrepreneurship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and a Sabbatical Leave from SUNY, Stony Brook.
In my classes, I am a big fan of having students read primary materials and venture their own historical interpretations. Recent upper-level classes have gotten students into local archives to explore Long Island’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century past. Account books, slave and servant indentures, and population and agricultural censuses are rich sources for fresh historical eyes. And although “the past is a foreign country,” in classes we consider its enduring legacies, and its relevance to questions of today.
- Scholarly Works
- Making Houses, Crafting Capitalism: Builders in Philadelphia, 1790-1850 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), a study of work, capital and consumption in the nineteenth-century housing industry. The book has been widely praised for its “extremely impressive scholarship” and its “highly textured” examination of Philadelphia’s urban development. Making Houses, Crafting Capitalism was nominated for the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in Vernacular Architecture.
“Bone Boilers: Nineteenth-century Green Businessmen?” in Nature’s Entrepôt: Philadelphia’s Urban Sphere and its Environmental Thresholds. Edited by Brian C. Black and Michael J. Chiarappa. University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming, 2012.