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  • Anne Boylan, Professor Emerita of History in the History Department at the University of Delaware

    Professor Emerita of History
    University of Delaware
    Newark, DE 19716


    ​Anne M. Boylan taught at the University of Delaware for 30 years before retiring in 2016.  She is now Professor Emerita of History and Women and Gender Studies at UD. After receiving the PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1973, she taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of New Mexico, before coming to Delaware in 1985. A social historian of the United States, she does research and writes on women's history, social and cultural history, voluntary associations, and religion.  She is the author of scholarly articles and four books: Sunday School: The Formation of An American Institution, 1790-1880 (Yale University Press 1988); The Origins of Women's Activism: New York and Boston, 1797-1840 (University of North Carolina Press 2002); Women's Rights in the United States: A History in Documents (Oxford University Press 2016); and Votes for Delaware Women (forthcoming from the University of Delaware Press).  Boylan has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from, among others, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. She was recently inducted into the Society of American Historians. She currently serves as the contract historian for the Congressional Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission and state coordinator for the Delaware suffragists included in the online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States. She is the guest curator for the UD Library's Special Collections exhibit "Votes for Delaware Women," February-June, 2020.



    • Women's Rights in the United States A History in Documents (Oxford University Press, 2015)
    • The Origins of Women’s Activism, New York and Boston, 1797-1840 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002; paperback edition, 2002)
    • Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790-1880 (Yale University Press, 1988; paperback edition, 1990)

    Articles and Book Chapters

    • “Claiming Visibility: Women in Public/Public Women in the United States, 1865-1910,” in Becoming Visible: Women in View in Late Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Janet Floyd, Alison Eastman and R. J. Ellis (Rodopi, 2010)
    • “Benevolence and Antislavery Activity among African-American Women in New York and Boston, 1820-1840,” in The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin and John Van Horne (Cornell University Press, 1994)
    • “Women and Politics in the Era before Seneca Falls,” Journal of the Early Republic, October 1990
    • “Growing Up Female in Young America (1800-1865),” in American Childhood: A Research Guide and Historical Handbook, ed. Joseph Hawes and N. Ray Hiner, (Greenwood, 1985)
    • “Women in Groups: An Analysis of Women's Benevolent Organizations in New York and Boston, 1797-1840,” Journal of American History, December 1984





Women's Rights in the United States A History in DocumentsBoylan, AnneOxford University Press2015<p>​<em>Women's Rights in the United States: A History in Documents</em> uses a diverse collection of documents--including manifestoes, letters, diaries, cartoons, broadsides, legal and court records, poems, satires, advertisements, petitions, photographs, leaflets, maps, posters, autobiographies, and newspapers--to examine major themes in the history of women's rights and women's rights movements in the U.S. The documents encompass the experiences of women from a wide range of racial, ethnic, class, economic, sexual, marital, and social groups. The book covers such topics as organized social movements; changing definitions of rights and different women's access to rights; divisions among women within women's rights movements; global contexts for women's rights activism; and the question of what it means for women and men to be "equal." Each chapter includes an introductory essay, and each document has a headnote or long caption. A picture essay illuminates how both suffragists and anti-suffragists employed cartooning to articulate their political positions.</p>
The Origins of Women’s Activism, New York and Boston, 1797-1840Boylan, AnneUniversity of North Carolina Press2002<p> </p><h4>Awards & distinctions</h4><p> </p><p>2004 Certificate of Commendation, American Association for State and Local History</p><p> </p><p> </p><p>Tracing the deep roots of women's activism in America, Anne Boylan explores the flourishing of women's volunteer associations in the decades following the Revolution. She examines the entire spectrum of early nineteenth-century women's groups--Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish; African American and white; middle and working class--to illuminate the ways in which race, religion, and class could bring women together in pursuit of common goals or drive them apart. </p><p>Boylan interweaves analyses of more than seventy organizations in New York and Boston with the stories of the women who founded and led them. In so doing, she provides a new understanding of how these groups actually worked and how women's associations, especially those with evangelical Protestant leanings, helped define the gender system of the new republic. She also demonstrates as never before how women in leadership positions combined volunteer work with their family responsibilities, how they raised and invested the money their organizations needed, and how they gained and used political influence in an era when women's citizenship rights were tightly circumscribed.</p>
Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790-1880Boylan, AnneYale University Press1988<p>​This engrossing book traces the social history of Protestant Sunday schools from their origins in the 1790s―when they taught literacy to poor working children―to their consolidation in the 1870s, when they had become the primary source of new church members for the major Protestant denominations.  Anne M. Boylan describes not only the schools themselves but also their place within a national network of evangelical institutions, their complementary relationship to local common schools, and their connection with the changing history of youth and women in the nineteenth century.  Her book is a signal contribution to our understanding of American religious and social history, education history, women’s history, and the history of childhood.  </p>

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University of Delaware
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