She has won every award that an American historian can win. When this post goes live, I will be sitting in a classroom with eighty United States history survey students watching “A Midwife’s Tale,” a movie based on her book by the same name.
Kurt Manwaring: Richard Bushman initially advised you not to pursue a Ph.D. because he felt it would ruin your writing style. Did you ever talk with him later in your career about the way your doctorate affected your style?
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: Dick wasn’t the only one who saw me as more of a popular writer than a scholar. I don’t think his comment was sexist, but the advise I got from one of my undergraduate professors reflected common ideas of the time. “Your business is to delight,” he said.
One of my UNH mentors even suggested (at a dinner after I successfully defended my dissertation) that it would be nice if I got a job but that it was more important tht his male students did so because that was part of their “identity.” For me it was optional.
I was horrified at the time, but was too polite to say anything.
He always supported my work. That wasn’t the issue. He thought that as a married woman, I didn’t really need to support my self. His own wife worked collaboratively with him and he must have considered a viable option for a woman with children. Unfortunately, my husband was an engineer! We wouldn’t have made a very good scholarly team!
Read the entire interview here.