Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History, has been elected president of the American Historical Association (AHA), the principal umbrella organization for the profession. Her one-year term as president will begin in January 2018.
She will become the fifth Cornell professor to lead the AHA, whose first president was Cornell co-founder Andrew Dickson White, in 1884. Cornell historian Carl Becker served as president in 1931. The more than 130 AHA presidents have included two U.S. presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
“Mary Beth is a formidable scholar and a dynamic lecturer,” said Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences. “She’s going to be an inspiring president of AHA.”
Said Norton: “I am very pleased that my fellow historians selected me for this important position. It will be my honor to serve them, first as president-elect in 2017 and then as president in 2018.”
Norton’s research interests include the interplay of gender, society and politics in America from the beginnings of settlement to approximately 1800. Her books include “The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789” (1972); “Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800” (1980); “Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society” (1996); “In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692” (2002); and “Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World” (2011). Her current research project focuses on the period just prior to the outbreak of fighting in April 1775.
The recipient of four honorary degrees and a Woodrow Wilson fellowship, Norton has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Guggenheim fellow and the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She won the Ambassador Book Award in American Studies and has been recognized for excellence in teaching undergraduates with a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship. Her achievements – including her appointment as the first female faculty member of Cornell’s history department – were celebrated in 2012 at a two-day conference, “Liberty’s Daughters and Sons: Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Beth Norton.”
Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.