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UMass Sesquicentennial

University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Marla R. Miller


Public History Program

Office: Herter 614
Telephone: (413) 545-4256
Fax: (413) 545-6137
Personal web site

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.

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.