Nancy Cott

Most of Nancy Cott's work in 19th and 20th century U.S. history focuses on gender questions. Her interests also include social movements, political culture, law, and citizenship. Her current project concerns Americans who came of age in the 1920s and shaped their lives internationally.

Since writing Public Vows, on the history of marriage as a public institution in the U.S., Professor Cott has participated in writing historians' amici briefs on the same-sex marriage question in several states, including challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and she testified as an expert witness in the federal case Perry v. Schwarzenegger against Proposition 8 in California.

She teaches courses on the history of sexuality and gender, as well as (at the graduate level) twentieth-century U.S. history.

Selected Publications

  • "Revisiting the Transatlantic 1920s: Vincent Sheean vs. Malcolm Cowley" American Historical Review 118 (February 2013): 46-75.
  • Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (2000)
  • A Woman Making History: Mary Ritter Beard through Her Letters (1991)
  • The Grounding of Modern Feminism (1987)
  • The Bonds of Womanhood: (1977)


Nancy Cott

Position: Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History; Director, Pforzheimer Foundation; Director, Schlesinger Library

Field: United States

Specialty: History of gender and sexuality; social, political and cultural history of the U.S. in the 19th and 20th century

Fall 2013:
- History 1462: History of Sexuality in the Modern West

Spring 2014:
- History 2462: Readings in the U.S. in the 20th Century: Proseminar

Contact Info

Robinson Hall

Room 211

35 Quincy Street

Cambridge, MA 01238



Office Hours: Wednesday 1-2:30 & by appointment