Jane Kamensky is professor of history at Harvard University and the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the age of revolutions, with particular interests in the histories of family, culture, and everyday life.
Born in Manhattan, Kamensky received her BA (1985) and PhD (1993) in History from Yale University. Before coming to Harvard, she taught for two decades at Brandeis University, where she won two awards for excellence in teaching, and chaired the Department of History. She has also served as Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of History at Brown University.
Kamensky’s books include A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton, 2016), winner of the New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History and the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and a finalist for PEN’s Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing, and the George Washington Book Prize; The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), also a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (Oxford University Press, 1997); and the novel Blindspot (Random House, 2008), jointly written with Jill Lepore. With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (Oxford UP, 2012).
Her research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. A co-founder, with Jill Lepore, of the online journal Common-place, she has served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, and the Journal of the Early Republic. She has been elected to the Council of the American Antiquarian Society, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians, the Advisory Board of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Executive Board of the Society of American Historians. A Commissioner of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, she was honored as a “Literary Light” by the Boston Public Library in 2017.