Radcliffe College Maier's undergraduate alma mater
Maier taught for nine years at University of Massachusetts, Boston
Maier taught at MIT from 1978
Early life, education, and family
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1938 as Pauline Rubbelke, she attended parochial schools. Her father was a firefighter and her mother was a homemaker with five children. On entering Radcliffe College as an undergraduate, her original ambition was to be in the newspaper business.
The couple returned to Harvard University to pursue doctoral degrees, Charles in European history, and Pauline in 20th century urban studies in line with her interest in contemporary politics. But after taking Bernard Bailyn's "Colonial and Revolutionary America" seminar, she said, "Once you get into the 18th century, you never get out." Pauline and Charles earned their PhD degrees at Harvard, and Charles began a career there. They raised two daughters and a son in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Maier pursued gardening and cooking at the family weekend home.
Maier chaired a university-wide committee at MIT in 1985 to re-organize its humanities schools and broaden and structure its programs. Its adopted recommendations expanded women's studies, awarded specific area degrees, and initiated a doctoral program collaborating history and anthropology under Dean Ann Fetter Friedlaender. MIT's faculty voted Maier the Killian Award in 1998, given annually to one senior faculty member for outstanding achievement. The recipient presents on their professional activities over their Lecturer year.
Maier's writing is characterized as serious and unadorned, with a crossover appeal from scholars to intelligent readers who enjoy a well-told story of well-researched scholarly history. In Ratification, Maier attributed her storytelling ability to Barbara Tuchman's insight that the writer can build suspense by never acknowledging a development until the characters in the narrative could know it.
Professionally, her research-writing technique was self-described as looking for something comparative to come up with new questions. For example, in American Scripture, she found over 90 local declarations and then compared them to that of the Second Continental Congress. Popular support for the Declaration of Independence was built on how much was known and how widely the newspapers circulated. Massachusetts did not control Virginia, there was a confluence of ideas, assumptions, and similar responses to similar events.
As a popular history writer, she sought to understand her subjects as humans as well as their causes. Personal elements may not be important to public life, but they are the kinds of things people want to know. In Hamilton's famous phrase, he was "unfaithful to my wife, but not to my country." Historians always ask, What did they do for the public?
Maier won fellowships to write curriculum for college courses and high school teachers. She believed that the interest in American history was not tapped in the curriculum of many states. As a democratic country, the U.S. should give any student a background knowledge of what happened to make the Declaration and the Constitution, and how their uses changed. Assumed things were not always so, students should understand how things can and do change. "Every time you understand what's distinctive about a different time, you are understanding what is distinctive about our time."
Paxton Boys at Phil. Disorderly "out-of-doors" disrupted cities. → From Resistance to Revolut'n
S. Adams wrote to Mass. Sons of Liberty, NY Liberty Boys on Tea Tax → Old Revolut'naries
Declaration Comte of Ma, Ct, NY, Pa, Va. Written in secret, then venerated, transformed → see Maier's American Scripture
Mass. Convention moved to larger building for crowds, proceedings reported openly → Ratification: the People
Maier's scholarship belongs to the "Neo-Whig" school of historiography founded by Bernard Bailyn in reaction to the "Progressive" historians. Her work is likened to that of Gordon S. Wood and Edmund S. Morgan. Radical English libertarian thought changed American beliefs and society and culture. The spreading ideas of natural rights and individual liberty distinctively altered politics, economy and society. These are explained with political analysis apart from ideology, incorporating English and French sources.
Neo-Whigs of the 1950s forward avoided the triumphalism of the 1930s 'Whig historians' of the Revolution. The neo-Whigs added empire perspective, explored Patriot differences among colonies and within each colony, and added treatment of Tory elements. Maier's account of evolving Patriot differences is "Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution 1787–1788". Still, neo-Whigs have critics who see no causal imperative to revolution by Lockean ideals. Maier's account of the connections is found in "American Scripture: The Making of the Declaration of Independence".
Neo-Whigs versus neo-Progressives
In contrast to the neo-Whigs, neo-Progressives explain many developments as a conservative return to Coke's 'Rights of Englishmen', a reaction to economic imperatives of expanding Empire.
The British of all classes everywhere in the empire were more free than any in the world. Neo-progressives show that the structural economic change in the English Atlantic empire and local profit margins counted as much for merchants and planters as a colonial concern for Parliament's enactments. Control of domestic markets motivated as much as rights and ideals. The Neo-Whigs have difficulty explaining a tipping point from mild protest to sustained violence. At times they have not accounted for the exodus by Tories and ex-slave British. 'Liberty' in 1776 meant different things to different people. Maier's take is found in "From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765–1776".
Neo-Whigs in general answer that doctrine of every kind was underpinned by a colonial social reality that was by its nature uncertain and unstable. Nevertheless, they are charged with favoring those who could read and write. Social historians expanded historical inquiry into urban labor movements and rural militias. Maier contributed to the wider sensibility with her article "Popular Uprisings in 18th Century America" in the William and Mary Quarterly, featured in a reissue of their 50-year best. And while neo-Whigs can explain much of later social, economic and political transformation, see Maier's "Revolutionary Origins of the American Corporation", there still remains how marginalized populations (day-laborers, women, blacks slave and free, Amerindians) should be incorporated into the narrative of the American Revolution.
Expanding 'early American' history
Indeed, whatever was once "Early American History" is changed and changing. The field is 'imperialistically' reaching chronologically forward fifty years and backwards a century. It has spread geographically over the entire continent and across Atlantic communities. It topically encompasses slavery, gender, ethnicity and borderland outliers. The new intellectual fault line is methodological, based on differences in research standards and how to relate theory and archival research.
A recent collection by Donald A. Yerxa looks towards finding a 'reconceptualization' of the field with chronological bounds based on newly researched continuity and change, along with more coherent themes. Maier's section was a forum on historiography, Peter C. Mancall led 'the colonial period', and Gordon S. Wood started 'revolution and early republic'. Maier began the historiography section with three "Disjunctions" based on her previous work at NEH and a newly written rejoinder following comments by five other scholars.
In the first disjunction considered by Maier, the social 'Colonial' history is unlike the predominantly political and ideological 'Revolution' history. Colonial history from the Amerindian experience reaches a discontinuity at a time when U.S. imperialism overtakes earlier Hispanic developments in the 1800s. Maier agreed, "a disjunction in historical research is not a disjunction in history." The challenge is to find a bridge from modern fruitful research into the previous scholarship based on national boundaries. The second disjunction is between scholarly interests and the general public. Younger scholars are dropping the history of white men's politics. While bestsellers are written on Franklin, Washington, Adams, and '1776', many modern, cultural historians shun white male elites. "Nation" is dismissed as an imagined or invented construct and 'nationalism' in their critique lacks explanatory power for inclusive historical analysis.
Maier's third disjunction, related to the second, is between historical scholarship and history taught in secondary schools and college survey courses. While social and cultural historians add to the body of the scholarly literature in their professional careers, Maier asks, "why not synthesize and perpetuate the contributions of previous (political, military and diplomatic) scholars, at least in the classroom?" (Related on this page, see references to Maier's work in two fellowships at National Endowment of Humanities, Guggenheim Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, PBS, History Channel, and textbooks referenced by scholars.)
Paperback and ebook
These works are cited by scholars in the field as noted. Ebook, paperback, and audiobook editions offer easiest access to Maier's work. See titles re-listed below in "Books and scholarly articles" for approving and critical reviews, online interviews, panel discussion and lectures associated with each one.
"Ratification: the People Debate" (2010) ebook. CD-audio. (paper 07/05/2011). “”Ratification”" Google books. Links to reviews, video below.
"American Scripture: Making the Declaration ..." paper. “”Scripture”" Amazon 'look inside'. 140 scholarly cites. Links to reviews, video below.
"The Declaration of Indep. and the Constitution of the U.S." (2008), paper, ebook. "“Decl-Const"" 'Google books'. 10 scholar cites. See below.
"From Resistance to Revolution ... ", paper. “”Resistance”" 'Google books'. 149 scholarly cites. Links to reviews, video below.
"The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams", paper. “”Revolutionaries”" Amazon 'look'. 36 scholarly cites. See below.
Books and scholarly articles
Books and scholarly articles
The ISBN links here and footnoted go to WP's "Book Sources" for direct links at "find this book" resources. These include online text, formatted bibliographical information, libraries, book sellers, book swappers.
"The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States" (1998, 2008) paper. A 25-page introductory essay by Maier briefly describes the writing of the Declaration and of the Constitution. ISBN978-0-553-21482-6
"Declaring Independence" (2010) second edition. Univ. of Virginia Library. by Christian Yves Dupont, ed., Maier's essay, "Who really wrote the Declaration of Independence". also David McCulloch, Robert G. Parkinson, David Armitage, Robert M.S. McDonald, Justice Sandra Day O'Conner. ISBN978-0-9799997-0-3
"American Revolution" (2009) by Charlene Mires, ed. Maier writes a chapter "The path toward independence". Others: Don Higginbotham, Gary B. Nash, Gordon S. Wood, Jimmy Carter. ISBN978-1-59091-000-9
"Why does America have the Constitution of 1787?: new historical perspectives" by Joseph F. Cullon, Pauline Maier, Jack N. Rakove, Woody Holton, Max M. Edling. Dartmouth College. Video, DVD 88 min. (May, 2009) OCLC436157413
"The Revolutionary Origins of the American Corporation", The William and Mary Quarterly, Jan., 1993, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 51–84. 74 scholarly citations.OCLC481475984
"Interdisciplinary Studies of the American Revolution", Pauline Maier and Jack P. Greene. (Maier led on article, Greene led on book.) Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Spring, 1976, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 543–544 OCLC481071270
"Popular Uprisings in Eighteenth-Century America", Reprint of 50-year best: William and Mary Quarterly. 1, (1999): 138 OCLC96273569; original: WMQ: A Magazine of Early American History, Jan., 1970, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 3–35. 103 scholarly citations.
For a democracy to work, Maier would have its citizens to look beyond assumptions, to know how things can and do change." To "synthesize and perpetuate the contributions of previous scholars … in the classroom," she writes college textbooks and uses them to teach undergraduates. Maier writes online courses available at her university and used by other universities
Beyond traditional college offerings, Maier integrated participatory learning, political history and social history in a collaboration with online MUVE gaming project in a format that younger "digital divide" learners find engaging. She reaches out to students before college in texts used in high schools for Advanced Placement courses and previously in a text for middle schoolers with a braille edition. She connects with secondary teachers through the "Teaching American History" courses. She has been a TAH presenter and her books are used for required readings in college credit courses around the country for high school teachers to acquire a better background in American history.
"America's Documents of Freedom" (2009) by Goldhil Video. Greg Heimer narrator. 11 DVD-Rs, panel. Pauline Maier, John Smolenski, Robert George, Wilson Smith. For junior high/high school. Stories behind important documents in U.S. History. OCLC554943996
""Inventing America":a History of the United States" (2006) college textbook. Even when invented elsewhere, Americans adopt technology that alters their politics, economy, society.. First edition, chapters to 1800 by Maier. Maier lead author on second edition. 27 scholarly citations.
Critical review by economist Sylvia Nasar in the New York Times, “A textbook case”, asserting insufficient attention to innovation and adoption, corporation and profit, societal distribution. The “Authors’ answer” is found in the NYT of Oct 06, 2002.
US History Skillbook with Writing Practice and Exercises" by Henry, M and Maier, P., Ed.2 use with "Inventing" ISBN978-1-4138-9589-6; "With U.S. History: A Document-Based Skillbook" by Maier, P. Ed.2. use with "Inventing". ISBN978-1-4138-9328-1
"Primary Sources: workshops in American History. Workshop 2 of 8. “Common Sense and the American Revolution”: the power of the printed word. Transcripts and Video. Maier lecture on Thomas Paine's "Common Sense".
2001 WGBH Educational Foundation. Annenberg Foundation 2011. Course credit. Virginia Polytechnic Institute. A “companion web site” to the video workshop series providing professional development resources for American history teachers.
“The American Revolution”. "MIT open courseware" Undergraduate 21H.112 as taught in Spring 2006. viewed 05/08/2011. For an alternate online approach presenting similar material, see Joanne B. Freeman's lectures-only format, “The American Revolution” at 'Yale University Courses'.
Avatar virtual gaming
“Revolution” – virtual gaming, MITs Education Arcade, with Colonial Williamsburg. Microsoft iCampus. 2004. Pauline Maier historical collaboration with program authors Matthew Weise, Henry Jenkins, Kurt Squire. A seven-avatar Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE): conservative patriot burgess, tailoress entrepreneur, woman houseservant slave, male blacksmith, immigrant waitress, man fieldhand slave, carpenter.
Lectures and panel discussions
See below under "Further reading"
Popular reviews and columns
Popular reviews and columns
Maier wrote popular book reviews and opinion columns for several periodicals, including the New York Times (NYT) Books, Arts and Opinion pages, all relating to her scholarly area of expertise. She occasionally appeared as a guest on radio talk programs. Maier was an advisor to History News Network out of George Mason University.
New York Times street entry → Maier's 20 yrs NYT reviews on new American history releases.
Looking at twenty years as a NYT reviewer, one can see an evolution from (a) 1980s family, women's and children's books, to (b) early to mid 1990s specialty monographs concerning the Revolutionary period, to (c) late 1990s big name authors and best sellers in her field. (Note: keep scrolling through the Arts page ads for text.)
“Costa Report” interview with California-based Rebecca D. Costa's radio show features research based scholars with unconventional takes on nonpartisan 'PBS content'. Costa's “Maier interview” KSCO radio, Feb 4, 2011. Viewed 05/16/2001. “Wilson Center”, 'strengthening the fruitful relations between the world of learning and the world of public affairs'. "Dialogue Radio: “#946 ‘Ratification’”, December 19–26, 2010. Viewed 05/16/2001.
^“MIT Maier Web Page”, viewed 05/20/2011. The three early American history courses Maier taught solo were undergraduate courses in American Revolution used Gordon S. Wood's, 'The American Revolution: a history'; American History to 1865, used 'Inventing America"; and American Classics, primary sources, 'often cited, seldom read'. "Riots, Strikes and Conspiracies in American History" used Maier's work for early periods, Fogelson's for late. "MIT History undergrad courses"
^“Boston Globe, Oct 16, 1998” Its intent was to "illuminate rather than polarize the study of history", see “The Historical Society purpose” They found a home at Boston University which hosts their webpage at “The Historical Society”. The dual membership group was founded by Eugene Genovese (Atlanta U.), Stephen A. Schuker (UVA), and Donald Kagan (Yale). One explicit goal was to enlarge treatment of diplomatic and military history. The Times (London) Literary Supplement (“TLS 08 Dec 2000”) called their journal, "history as it should be … serious attention … to serious subjects". Another reviewer, a former AHA President, called it "… the New York Review of Books for history", see “THS webpage”. For the AHA reaction, see “Perspectives, Sep 1998”. A non-tenured AHA member spoke to age differences, generalists, hierarchies, and concluded that both the AHA and the THS leadership were alike, short-changing young faculty with teaching challenges, where their part time positions depended on undergraduates enrolling in sufficient numbers each semester. (Twenty years later, see homepage links to 'teaching resources' for both college and secondary history at American Historical Association ("AHA"), Organization of American Historians ("OAH"), and The Historical Society ("THS"); viewed 05/07/2011.)
^Each ISBN is a different edition. Wikipedia site also shows how to expand edition searches to paper, most recent or foreign language, with “xISBN”, a free search of all editions. The “Library Thing” has more paperbacks and foreign language. Find online by titles (and their ISBN) using “Google books” or “Amazon books”. Generate bibliographies from ISBN with “OttoBib”.
^"Yale University Courses" link viewed 05/11/2011 via "Sons of Liberty: an intercolonial network of organized resistance" found at “Rag Linen”Archived 2011-08-25 at the Wayback Machine. It quoted extensively from Maier's 1992 edition of "From Resistance to Revolution".
Biography of America: "Annenberg Learner"'s WGBH production of Biography of America (2000) "New world encounters". P. Maier et al., "The Coming of Independence". P. Maier, “The new system of government”, P. Maier, "Westward expansion". Maier, another and host. Maier shows here an example of the new "Early American History" where it stretches a century past and fifty years forward.
“Founding Fathers” 2000 – TV mini-series documentary. Four episodes on rebels, liberties, revolution, constitution.
Innovative places of scholarship
In her scholarly career, Pauline Maier found collaborative work among many academic institutions. These most often practiced interdisciplinary, multi-cultural study which broke through artificial chronologies. "A disjunction in historical research is not a disjunction in history." (in Donald Yerxa book) Below is a sampling.
Maya Lin's 'Women's Table' Monument Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University. Maier was a visiting professor here
“Center for the study of the American Constitution”, Madison, Wisconsin. Sponsor substantial publications about constitutional government to be widely used by scholars, judges, and teachers. Contribute professional development in curricula and classrooms around the region and the nation.
“Sloan Foundation”, New York, New York Promotes carefully reasoned and systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, through research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and the quality of American life. A focus on science, technology, and economic institutions.
“Guggenheim Foundation”, New York, New York. "Midcareer" awards for demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. An annual award for U.S./Canada and one for Latin America/Caribbean. Numbers of them are elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“The Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture”, Chicago, Illinois. To develop scholarship in American culture and broadcast it. Within various disciplines, connect History, Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, Public Policy, the Law School—and—Social Thought, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Divinity School—and—Art History, Cinema, Media, Visual and Music – and—English, Romance Languages, Linguistics.
"Journal of Interdisciplinary History", Boston, Massachusetts. Employ the methods and insights of multiple disciplines in the study of past times to bring a historical perspective to economics, demographics, politics, sociology and psychology.
“Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture”, Williamsburg, Virginia . Early American history and culture. From early contacts to 1820. Geographically, North America— French, Spanish, British, the Caribbean, Europe and West Africa. History, literature, law, political science, and cultural studies, anthropology, archaeology.
“National Endowment for the Humanities” (NEH), Washington, DC. Serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. Cultural resources for educational programs, reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history. Relating the humanities to the current national life.
“”National Archives” and Records Administration", Washington, DC . The Archives and its foundation preserve and present the records of the actions of Federal Government since 1790—interpreting relating each document to the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience. Network archives, records centers, online.
“Annenberg Foundation”, Los Angeles, California. Development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. Multimedia resources help teachers increase their expertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teaching methods. Programs are for students and viewers at home, exemplifying excellent teaching.
“Gilder Lehrman Institute”, New York, NY. Study and love of American history through programs and resources for students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiasts. Work with history-focused schools; organize development programs for teachers; Print and digital publications and traveling exhibits; resources for K–12 teachers and students.
“American Academy of Arts & Sciences”, Cambridge, Mass. Independent policy research for multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems and practical policy alternatives. Fosters public engagement and mentors new scholars and thinkers. Elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.
“Madison’s Montpelier”, Orange, Virginia. Non-partisan organization dedicated to the study and teaching of founding principles and constitutional ideals for American self-government. A goal of becoming the nation's leading resource in Constitutional education. A teaching academy for scholars, teachers, judges, and elected officials, U.S. and abroad.
“Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars", Washington, DC. Congress established, non-partisan, to unite the world of ideas to the world of policy. Scholarship and linking scholarship to issues of concern to Washington. Particularly study of international affairs, executive branch and Congress in a broad context in a long view.
Pauline Maier MIT homepage. Maier was a Professor of American History there from 1979 until her death.