Jane Kamensky

Professor of History and Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library


Jane Kamensky is Professor of History and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library. She is a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the age of revolutions, 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 History at Brown University. In 2007-08, a “New Directions” grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allowed her to pursue advanced study in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In addition to the Mellon Foundation, her scholarship has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. A co-founder, 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. She has been a member of the Council of the American Antiquarian Society, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians, the Advisory Board of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Executive Board of the Society of American Historians. She was recently appointed as a Commissioner to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

Kamensky’s major publications include The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), a finalist for the 2009 George Washington Book Prize; and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (Oxford UP, 1997). With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (Oxford UP, 2012). Her next book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, a history of painting and politics in the age of revolution centered on the life of John Singleton Copley, will be published by W. W. Norton.