History Department at UMass Amherst Adds Two New Faculty Members

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts history department has added two new members to its faculty. They are Alice Nash and Marla R. Miller.

Nash earned a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1997 with a specialty in Native American history. The first hire in the history department''s new tenure-track position in Native American and Early American history, she also augments the University''s recently created certificate program in Native American Indian Studies. She currently is teaching an introductory course in "Indian Peoples of North America," and a junior writing seminar that focuses on the "Indian Peoples of the Northeast."

Nash''s doctoral dissertation, "The Abiding Frontier: Family, Gender and Religion in Wabanaki History, 1600-1763," explored the impact of colonization on the indigenous peoples of northern New England, paying particular attention to gender and social relations. She currently is revising her manuscript for publication by UMass Press as part of its series, "Native Americans of the Northeast: Culture, History and the Contemporary."

Prior to coming to UMass, Nash taught at Sarah Lawrence College. There, working closely with Native American women from the New York City area, she organized a conference on "Native Women Weaving Urban Traditions: A Celebration of Indigenous Women and Their Urban Communities." The conference brought together Native and non-Native women artists, activists, and academics from across the U.S. and Canada. Nash says she hopes to organize a similar event at UMass.

Nash is also currently pursuing two projects related to the history of the upper Connecticut River Valley. She is editing a collection of Indian deeds culled from archives, and - in conjunction with new history faculty member Marla R. Miller - she is creating a Web-based course on the Deerfield raid of 1704.

Miller completed her B.A. in cultural history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988, and received her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1997. Her doctoral dissertation, "My Daily Bread Depends Upon My Labor: Craftswomen, Community and the Marketplace in Rural New England, 1740-1820," won the Organization of American Historians 1997 Lerner-Scott prize for outstanding work in women''s history.

The study, which grew out of research Miller undertook as an undergraduate participant in the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program, examined women''s work in the clothing trades before industrialization. Using diaries, letters, reminiscences, county records, and other archival sources from 18th- and early 19th-century Hampshire County, Miller''s dissertation challenged popular and scholarly depictions of the obedient "Colonial Goodwife," by redirecting attention to clothing production as a market-driven craft largely dominated by women. Miller has recently been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to further pursue this research.

As part of the history department''s public history program, Miller is also actively pursuing several projects in the Connecticut Valley area. Among these are a number of preservation projects in Williamstown, Chesterfield, Springfield and Hampden, as well as a full-time, two-year grant-funded position with the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, where she is working to make available the papers of eight "Agents of Social Change." This latter project involves arranging the personal and professional papers of Frances Fox Piven and Gloria Steinem, as well as the records of the Women''s Action Alliance, a service organization founded by Steinem and other notable feminists.

In addition, Miller is collaborating on a number of other public history initiatives, including a program with the UMass History Institute, "Voices from Three Centuries," which seeks to help primary and secondary teachers to integrate primary sources into their history curriculums by introducing them to local archival materials.

Miller is currently teaching a junior writing seminar entitled "The Power of Place: The Politics of History on the UMass Campus," which uses memorials and plaques throughout campus as a way to study the manner in which commemorative work is developed.