New Faculty Director for the Schlesinger Library

Historian Jane Kamensky Joins Radcliffe Institute and Harvard History Department
Photo by Nina SubinPhoto by Nina Subin
May 4, 2015

Jane Kamensky will be joining the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study as the new Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. In addition to her Institute appointment, she will be a professor in the History Department at Harvard University. Prior to coming to Radcliffe, Kamensky chaired the Department of History at Brandeis University, where she was the Harry S. Truman Professor of American Civilization and served on the core faculty of the university’s interdepartmental Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Kamensky also served on the faculty at Brown University, where she was appointed as the Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of American History.

A prominent historian, Kamensky knows Radcliffe well, having been the 2006–2007 Emeline Bigelow Conland Fellow and a Bunting Institute fellow a decade before that. She is also a longtime fan of the Schlesinger Library. She is the author, coauthor, or editor of seven books, including The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), which was a finalist for the 2009 George Washington Book Prize. With Harvard historian Jill Lepore, she wrote the novel Blindspot (Spiegel & Grau, 2008), a New York Times editor’s choice and Boston Globe best seller. Her first published book was The Colonial Mosaic: American Women, 1600–1760 (Oxford University Press, 1995), a volume in a series edited by the Schlesinger’s most recent faculty director, Nancy F. Cott. Kamensky is currently working on a biography of the painter John Singleton Copley, which W. W. Norton will publish. 

“As an innovative scholar who has used the Schlesinger and been a Radcliffe fellow, Jane is the ideal leader for the library and a superb addition to the History Department,” said Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen, who is also the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the History Department at Harvard University.

Kamensky earned her BA and PhD, both in history, from Yale University. In addition to her Radcliffe Institute fellowship, her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. She is a founding coeditor of Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life and has served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, and the Journal of the Early Republic, as well as on the governing boards of the American Antiquarian Society and the Organization of American Historians. She is currently a member of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Commission and serves on the advisory board of American National Biography under the general editor, Susan Ware. 

The Schlesinger Library holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and include more than 3,200 manuscript collections, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals, and films, photos, and audiovisual material.

“It’s both a great honor and a genuine pleasure to join the Radcliffe Institute and the Harvard faculty,” said Kamensky. “I am eager to build on the extraordinary collections of the library and to help facilitate the work of scholars across the Harvard campus and around the world in the many fields the Schlesinger’s rich resources support.” She starts at the Schlesinger Library on September 1, 2015.

About the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute's commitment to women, gender, and society. Learn more about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute at

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