Middlebury

Author and social historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to speak, Oct. 28

October 11, 2005

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On Friday, Oct. 28, at 8:15 p.m., author and early American history professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich will deliver a lecture titled "Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History." The event, the annual Middlebury College Charles S. Grant Memorial Lecture, will take place in Mead Chapel and is free and open to the public.

Ulrich has been the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University since 1995. She is the author of many articles and books on early American history, including "Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England" and "A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812," which won the Pulitzer Prize for history and the Bancroft Award in 1991, and was also the basis for a PBS documentary.

During the last decade, Ulrich has explored museum artifacts as sources for social history. "My connection to the past, like any historian's, is through the stuff that's left behind," she said. "It's not an imaginative connection, although imagination is part of it. It's about documents, it's about sources, it's about clues, it's about the leavings, the shards, the remnants of people who once lived and don't live anymore."

Her most recent book, "The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth," considers 14 domestic items, including a linen tablecloth, two Indian baskets and an unfinished stocking. She is often recalled for her one-line quote, "Well-behaved women seldom make history," which has appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts. The quote is also the starting place for her current book in progress.

Ulrich received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Utah, a master's in English from Simmons College in Boston, and a doctorate in history from the University of New Hampshire, where she taught until 1995.

The Charles S. Grant Memorial Lecture commemorates the gifted and much loved teacher who was an esteemed scholar at Middlebury College in the 1950s until his untimely death in 1961. Shortly thereafter, several colleagues and friends in the Middlebury community formed a committee and created a fund that eventually became large enough to establish an annual lectureship in American history as a tribute to him. Many prominent American historians of the past 35 years have delivered Grant lectures, including David McCullough, author of the best-selling biography "John Adams," and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who served from 1961-1963 as special assistant to President John F. Kennedy.

Mead Chapel is located on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125). For more information, contact Travis Jacobs, Middlebury College professor of history, at tjacobs@middlebury.edu or (802) 443-5315.