Professor Dallett Hemphill, Prominent American Historian

Professor of History Dallett Hemphill reminds us that the importance of siblings is often overlooked in the history of the American family. But siblings have helped each other, and leaned on one another, in the face of the dramatic political, economic and cultural changes of the 18th and 19th centuries. Dr. Hemphill is the author of Siblings, Brothers and Sisters in American History, published this summer (2011) by Oxford University Press.

According to the publisher, “based on a wealth of family papers, period images, and popular literature, this is the first book devoted the broad history of sibling relations, spanning the long period of transition from early to modern America.”

In Colonial America, sibling relations were an egalitarian dynamic within the larger patriarchal family and society. After the Revolutionary War, sibling relations provided order and authority in a more democratic nation. As the next generation, they always served as a link to the family past. Research on the book was funded by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

This is Dr. Hemphill’s second book on an aspect of early American history. She is also the author of Bowing to Necessities: A History of Manners in America, 1620-1860. (Oxford University Press), which is a look at the regulation of class, age, and gender relations in America, from the frontier life of the 1600s to the democratic modernity of the mid-19th Century. This book stemmed from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A prominent American historian, she teaches in the American Studies and in the History departments at Ursinus College. She teaches courses in Early American history (from the era of European settlement through the Civil War), women’s and family history, and the history of Philadelphia. She developed a course which uses Philadelphia as a text, teaching how the citizens of Philadelphia have shaped its history, over the last 300 years.

Dr. Hemphill is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University with a Ph.D. from Brandeis. A specialist in American colonial, social and women’s history, she is the author of a number of scholarly papers and articles and served as etiquette consultant for “Mary Silliman’s War,” a film about an American family during the revolutionary war. She recently enjoyed teaching family and urban history in France with the Ursinus in Paris program.