Jane Kamensky is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American 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, Harvard University. She is a historian of the Atlantic world and the United States, 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 American History at Brown University.
Her most recent book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W. W. Norton, 2016), won the New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History, the James Bradford Biography Prize of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize, the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing, and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. Kamensky’s previous books include Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (Oxford University Press, 1998); 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; and the novel Blindspot (Spiegel & Grau, 2008), jointly written with Jill Lepore. With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2012). Her next book, Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below, will be published by W. W. Norton.
Kamensky’s research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A cofounder, 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 and as a commissioner of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. She has been elected to the council of the American Antiquarian Society, the executive board of the Organization of American Historians, the executive board of the Society of American Historians, and the advisory board of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. In 2017, she was honored by the Boston Public Library at its Literary Lights 2017 event.