Lindsay Keiter

I’m a historian of women and gender in early British North America, particularly the intersections with capitalism, the law, and medicine. I’m expanding on my dissertation, “Uniting Interests: The Economic Functions of Marriage in America, 1750-1860” to include Massachusetts and New York in addition to Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. In this project, I analyze matrimony’s critical functions in transferring wealth, comparing how families reacted to legal and economic change as they sought to assure that the next generation formed financially secure unions. I trace how families sought to account balance growing desires for emotional fulfillment in marriage with the intractable need to ensure that children were financially independent. A critical element of my approach is comparing how the legal and economic systems of these five colonies, later states, shaped the choices of early American men and women.
I earned my PhD from the College of William & Mary in 2016. Since 2015, I’ve been a historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which has allowed me to combine my interest in the eighteenth century with my commitment to public history. I’ve received support from the historical societies of Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and New York, as well as the American Philosophical Society and the Library Company of Philadelphia. I’ve presented my research most recently at the Business History Conference, the American Historical Association annual meeting, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic annual meeting.