Research Interests

Education

  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 1981

Select Publications

  • Ship of Death: The Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2013).
  • Class Matters: Early North America and the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).  With Simon Middleton
  • Down and Out In Early America (University Park, Pa.: Penn State Press, 2004).
  • Encyclopedia of American History: Colonization and Settlement, 1685-1763 (New York: Facts on File, 2003); revised edition 2009.
  • "A Melancholy Scene of Devastation": The Public Response to the 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic (Philadelphia: Science History Publications, 1997).  With J. Worth Estes.
  • Life in Early Philadelphia: Documents from the Revolutionary and Early National Periods (University Park, Pa.: Penn State Press, 1995). 
  • The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, An Indentured Servant (University Park, Pa.: Penn State Press, 1992).  With Susan E. Klepp.  Revised second edition, 2005.
  • The "Lower Sort:" Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750-1800 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990). 
  • Blacks Who Stole Themselves: Advertisements for Runaways in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1790 (Philadelphia: Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 1989).  With Richard Wojtowicz.
  • Co-editor of “Class and Early America,” an issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, Spring, 2006.  With Simon Middleton. 
  • Co-editor of an edition of Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal: “Deference in Early North America.” 
  • Co-editor of an edition of Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas (Fall 2004): "Class Analysis in Early America and the Atlantic World: Foundations and Future."  With Simon Middleton.
  • “Benjamin Franklin: Civic Improver,” in Page Talbott, ed., Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005), 91-124. 
  • "Resisting Inequality: Black Women Who Stole Themselves in Eighteenth-Century America" in Carla Gardina Pestana and Sharon V. Salinger., eds., Inequality in Early America (Hanover, N.H: University Press of New England, 1999), 134-159.
  • “Walking Moraley’s Streets: Philadelphia,” COMMON-PLACE, 3:4 (July, 2003)
  • "Laboring Americans and the American Revolution," Labor History, Volume 24, No. 3 (Summer, 1983), 414-439.  With Gary B. Nash and Dirk Hoerder.          
  • "The Material Lives of Laboring Philadelphians, 1750-1800," William and Mary Quarterly, XXXVIII, 3d Series (April, 1981), 163-202.  Reprinted several times in anthologies.
  • "Poverty and Economic Marginality in Eighteenth-Century America," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 32, No. 1 (1988), 85-118.
  • "Comment" on Standards of Living in British America, William and Mary Quarterly, XLV, 3d Series (January, 1988), 163-66.
  • "Inequality in Late Colonial Philadelphia: A Note on Its Nature and Growth," William and Mary Quarterly, XLI, 3d Series (October, 1984), 629-645.

Awards, Honors, and Affiliations

  • Elected member of the Council of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg (2014-2017)
  • Norris and Carol Hundley Award for the most distinguished book on any historical topic by a historian living in the West, Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, 2014 (for Ship of Death: A Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World)
  • A conference organized to honor my scholarship: “On the Anvil of Labor History in the Revolutionary Era: Billy G. Smith and Fellow Artisans,” held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Univ. of Pennsylvania, November 7-9, 2013.
  • NEH Fellow, The Library Company of Philadelphia, 2010
  • Grant from INBRE (National Institute of Health), 2009-10 and 2010-11
  • Elected Member of the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, Mass.), 2006
  • Acclaimed at the Early American Salon in Philadelphia as one of the two best stand-up comedians among Early American Historians
  • L&S Research Enhancement awards 2004-07
  • James and Mary Ross Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2000
  • Grant from the Hewlett Foundation to “reinvent” the MSU CORE ($150,000) in 1998-2000, and renewal ($150,000) in 2000-02 (a member of a five-person committee)
  • Scholarship and Creativity Grant, MSU, 1999-2000, 2000-02, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-07
  • Exceptional Opportunities Grant, MSU, 1998-1999
  • Cox Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research at MSU, 1994
  • Research Grants from the American Philosophical Society, Fall, 1982 and Summer, 1993
  • Sabbatical from MSU, 1991-92, 2000-01
  • Wiley Award for Outstanding Research at MSU, 1991
  • American Antiquarian Society & National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1991-92
  • Mortar Board Professor of the Month for Outstanding Teaching at MSU, February, 1990
  • Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, 1982-83
  • Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1982 and 1988
  • Fellowship from the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Fall, 1982 and Fall, 1984
  • Grant from Montanans on a New Track for Science (a program funded in part by the National Science Foundation), 1982-83, 83-84, 84-85, 86-87
  • Research-Creativity Grant, Montana State University, 1982-83, 84-85, 85-86, 87-88, 88-89, 89-90, 90-91, 92-93, 93-94, 95-96, 96-97
  • Grants from Montana Committee for the Humanities, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001