Office: TMH 223
Ph.D. - Johns Hopkins University
M.A. - Johns Hopkins University
B.A. - Brown University
Early North America and the Atlantic World, Women and Gender, Legal History, Economic History
Sara T. Damiano is a historian of women and gender in early America and the Atlantic World. She received her PhD in History from Johns Hopkins University and is currently an assistant professor at Texas State University. Damiano’s researches focus on individuals, especially women, who possessed limited access to formal political and economic power and who are seldom centered in eighteenth-century historical sources.
Damiano’s first book, To Her Credit: Gender, Law, and Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century New England Cities (Johns Hopkins University Press, Spring 2021) argues that women’s labor was crucial to the functioning of urban economies and legal systems. To Her Credit vividly reconstructs everyday life in Boston, MA and Newport, RI as revealed through vast troves of court records. Married and unmarried women alike forged new paths through the complexities of eighteenth-century credit and debt, stabilizing credit networks amidst demographic and economic turmoil. Both within and beyond households, urban women mobilized sophisticated skills and strategies as borrowers, lenders, litigants, and witnesses. Such routine economic dealings shaped social hierarchies, alternately empowering women and exposing the gendered limits of female economic participation.
Damiano’s current project investigates interactions between officers of the law and laypeople, both free and enslaved, in early American cities. She has also previously published articles on spouses’ handling of finances during the American Revolution, collaborations between male and female financial agents, and female administrators of estates. In the Spring of 2016, she was a Program in Early American Economy and Society (PEAES) postdoctoral fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Her research has also received support from organizations and institutions including the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.
Damiano teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on early America, the Atlantic world, law and society, capitalism and economic culture, and American women’s and gender history. Prior to arriving at Texas State University, she taught courses at Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
To Her Credit: Women, Finance, and the Law in Eighteenth-Century New England Cities, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021.
Articles and Chapters:
“Gender and Family” in The Oxford Handbook of the Seven Years War, ed. Trevor Burnard, Emma Hart, and Marie Houllemare (Oxford: Oxford University Press), in preparation.
“Women and the Law,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History, ed. Trevor Burnard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).
“Writing Women’s History through the Revolution: Family Finances, Letter Writing, and Conceptions of Marriage,” William and Mary Quarterly 74, no. 4 (October 2017): 697-728.
“Agents at Home: Wives, Lawyers, and Financial Competence in Eighteenth-Century New England Port Cities,” Early American Studies 13, no. 4 (Fall 2015): 808-835.
“‘To Well and Truly Administer’: Female Administrators and Estate Settlement in Newport, Rhode Island, 1730-1776,” New England Quarterly 86, no. 1 (March 2013): 89-124.
“Of Nouns and Verbs: Researching Women, Finance, and the Law in Early America,” JHU Press Blog, May 17, 2021.
“What Yellen and Hamilton Comparisons Omit: Women’s Progress is Not Guaranteed,” Public Seminar, February 3, 2021.
“The Abigail Adams ‘Problem;’ or, Teaching Women’s History of the Revolutionary Era,” The Panorama: Expansive Views from the Journal of the Early Republic, April 16, 2018.