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University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Marla R. Miller


Public History Program

Office: Herter 704
Telephone: (413) 545-4256
Fax: (413) 545-6137

Twitter: @MarlaatUMass

Degree: Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997).
Fields of interest: Early American History, Women's History, and American Material Culture, as well as Public History.

Graduate Courses Offered:
American Material Culture
Museum & Historic Site Interpretation
Public History
Topics in Early American History: The Era of the American Revolution
The Social History of New England Architecture
Writing History Beyond Academe
The Art and Craft of Biography

Research Interests and Professional Activities
Marla Miller's 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 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.


In addition to her own scholarship, Marla contributes to her fields of study as an editor.  She has served on the editorial board of the Public Historian, and is the founding editor of the prizewinning UMass Press series Public History in Historical Perspective, and is currently serving on the editorial boards of the Journal of the Early Republic and the New England Quarterly.

As Director of the History Department's Public History program, Marla also teaches courses in Public History, American Material Culture, and Museum and Historic Site Interpretation, and continues to consult with a wide variety of museums and historic sites. In 2012, she and three co-authors released Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service, a multi-year study funded by the NPS Chief Historian's office and hosted by the Organization of American Historians. In 2013, Imperiled Promise won the National Council on Public History prize for Excellence in Consulting.


Research Areas:

Early American History

Women's History

American Material Culture

Public History


Rebecca Dickinson (Lives of American Women series). Boulder, CO: Westview Press,/Perseus, 2013.

University of Massachusetts Amherst: A Campus Guide. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2013; with Max Page.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America. New York: Henry Holt, 2010.

Cultivating A Past: Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009; editor.

 The Needle’s Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution. . Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.

Awards and Accolades

Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship, UMass Amherst, 2014-2015

American Antiquarian Society, elected to membership in 2013

Massachusetts Historical Society, elected to membership in 2012

Strickland Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Middle Tennessee State University, 2012

Joanna Dunlap Cowden Memorial Lecture, Chico State University, 2011

Gary C. and Eleanor G. Simons Lecture in American History, University of Florida, 2009

Patrick Henry Fellowship, C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience, 2009-10

H.F. DuPont Winterthur Museum and Library research fellowship, 2008

Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians, 2004-present