Cynthia A. Kierner

Cynthia A. Kierner

Cynthia A. Kierner


U.S. History: Colonial and revolutionary America; early republic; Old South; women and gender; disasters in history

Cindy Kierner received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1986. A specialist in the fields of early America, women and gender, and early southern history, she is the author or editor of eight books and many articles. Kierner is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer and past president of the Southern Association for Women Historians (SAWH), and she has served on several editorial boards. Her research has received support from the American Historical Association, the Virginia Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Antiquarian Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Current Research

Kierner is currently working on three projects:

  • The Tory's Wife: Jane Spurgin and her Family in Revolutionary America (book)
  • Rethinking American Disasters: New Essays in Cultural, Political, and Environmental History (co-edited collection)
  • A biography of Joan Whitney Payson

Selected Publications

Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood (2019).

Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times, 2 vols. (co-editor; 2015-16).

Changing History: Virginia Women through Four Centuries (coauthor; 2013).

Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times (2012).

The Contrast: Manners, Morals, and Authority in the Early American Republic (2007).

Scandal at Bizarre: Rumor and Reputation in Jefferson’s America (2004).

Revolutionary America, 1750-1815: Sources and Interpretation(2002).

“‘The dark and dense cloud perpetually lowering over us’: Gender and the Decline of the Gentry in Postrevolutionary Virginia,” Journal of the Early Republic (2000).

Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South, 1700-1835 (1998).

Southern Women in Revolution, 1776-1800: Personal and Political Narratives (1998).

“Gender, Hospitality, and Sociability in the Southern Colonies,” Journal of Southern History (1996).

Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York, 1675-1790 (1992).

Courses Taught

Undergraduate: Formation of the American Republic, Revolutionary America, Introduction to Historical Method--various topics (HIST 300), World of the Founders (HIST 499), Disasters in History (HIST 499), America History through Autobiography

Graduate: Colonial America, Revolutionary Era, Leisure in America, Disasters in History, U.S. Women's History

Dissertations Supervised (in progress)

Megan Brett, "Family Matters: Family Strategies and National Identity for Americans Abroad in the Early Republic, 1780-1840"

Alyssa Fahringer, “‘With All Her Sad Disasters, What Do We See in this City?’: Reconstruction, Race, and the Politics of Disaster in Richmond, 1870-1918.” 

Alicia Tucker, “A Small, but Well Chosen Library:” Women and Rural Reading Communities in the Age of the Early Republic"




Recent Presentations

"Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from Jamestown to Johnstown"--various venues

"Travel and Terror: Exploding Steamboats and the Popular Culture of Nineteenth-Century America," Frontier Culture Museum, March 2018.

"Jane Welborn Spurgin and the 'Common Rights of Other Citizens," Martha Washington Lecture, Mount Vernon, March 2018.

"Appalling Calamity!: Gender, Sentiment, Region, and the Richmond Theater Fire of 1811," SAWH Plenary Lecture, Southern Historical Association, Oct. 2017.

"In Search of Imperial Benevolence," British Group of Early American Historians, September 2017.

"'We Cannot be Tame Spectators': Four Centuries of Virginia Women's History," Virginia Historical Society, Mar. 2014.

"Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times"--various venues

"Women, Tea, and Politics in Early America," Mary Baldwin College, Mar. 2014.


Dissertations Supervised

Alicia Tucker, “A Small, but Well Chosen Library”: Or, A History of Rural Reading Communities and Gendered Consumption Patterns in Virginia Planter Society During the Early Republic (2024)

Alyssa Toby Fahringer, With All Her Sad Disasters, What Do We See In This City?”: Reconstruction, Race, and the Politics of Disaster in Richmond, 1870-1920 (2022)

Megan R. Brett, Family Strategies, Kinship Networks, and National Identity for Americans Abroad: the Maury Family of Virginia and Liverpool, 1785-1840 (2022)

Andrew Salamone, “The Day We Celebrate:” Contesting Independence Day in the Deep South, 1820-1906 (2020)

Stephanie Seal Walters, As I Glory in the Name of Tory: Loyalism, Community, and Memory in Revolutionary Virginia (2020)

Andrea R. Gray, “Leaving Their Callings”: Retirement in the Early Republic (2020)

Gwendolyn White, Commerce and Community: Plantation Life at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 1754 to 1799 (2016)

Jonathan Barth, Money, Mercantilism and Empire in the Early English Atlantic, 1607-1697 (2014)