|Pauline (Rubbelke) Maier|
“The Dome” at MIT. Maier explains in person,
You teach history at MIT?
April 27, 1938|
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Alma mater||Radcliffe College (B.A.)
London School of Economics
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
|Spouse(s)||Charles S. Maier|
Pauline Maier (born 1938) is a historian of the American Revolution, though her work also addresses the late colonial period and the history of the United States after the end of the Revolutionary War. She is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Maier has achieved prominence over a fifty-year career of critically acclaimed scholarly histories and journal articles. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and teaches undergraduates. She authors textbooks and online courses. Her popular career includes series with PBS and the History Channel. She's appeared on Charlie Rose, C-SPAN2's In Depth and written 20 years for the New York Times review pages. Maier was 2011 President of the Society of American Historians. She won the 2011 George Washington Book Prize for her book Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788.
 Life and career
 Early life, education and family
Pauline Maier was born in 1938 as Pauline Rubbelke in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she attended parochial schools. Her father was a firefighter and her mother was a homemaker with five children. On entering Radcliffe as an undergraduate, her original ambition was to be in the newspaper business.
She was a writer on The Harvard Crimson and worked summers at the Quincy, Massachusetts ‘Patriot Ledger’. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1960 with a bachellor's degree in History and Literature. It was on the Crimson that she met her future husband, Charles S. Maier. After graduation, they both attended schools at Oxford on fellowships, she as a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science. On completing their studies, they married and toured Europe together.
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. She is said to hold onto a trace of Midwestern accent, interviews with an engaging courtesy, and, decidedly not the stuffy academician, interrupts discussion with bursts of laughter. Maier pursues gardening and cooking at the family weekend home.
Maier taught at University of Massachusetts Boston for nine years, and one year at the University of Wisconsin before taking her position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978 as William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History. Her career has included various appointments in five prestigious universities, and numerous fellowships and awards. She teaches in three courses of Early American History, and co-teaches “Riots, Strikes and Conspiracy in American History” with urban historian Robert M. Fogelson.
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.
Since 1976, she has been a member of the American Antiquarian Society. An offprint of its proceedings features her “Boston and New York in the 18th Century” (1982). In the 1990s, Maier was a charter member of “The Historical Society”, group among American Historical Association membership who were concerned about restrictive ‘political correctness’ and collegial civility. Maier was elected as an American Academy of Arts and Sciences “History Fellow” in 1998. In 2010, Maier became one of two women honorary members of the Colonial Massachusetts Society since 1947.
Pauline Maier is 2011 President of the Society of American Historians (SAH), an affiliate of the American Historical Association. It is dedicated to literary distinction in history and biography. The Society's past presidents include Allan Nevins, Eric Foner, James M. McPherson, and David McCullough.
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 masterful storytelling 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. (Related: see reviews noted on this page from New York Times Books, Washington Post and others.)
Professionally, her research-writing technique is 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. (See related on this page, “Ratification: the People Debate the Constitution”, online reviews, interviews.)
As a popular history writer, she seeks 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?
 Teaching teachers
Maier has won fellowships to write curriculum for college courses and high school teachers. She believes that the interest in American history is 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." (See related on this page, “Texts and Teaching”.)
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 the 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.
Co-authored and contributed chapters
 Texts, online courses, avatar gaming
|Texts, online courses, avatar gaming|
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.
avatar virtual gaming
Lectures and panel discussions
 Popular reviews and columns
|Popular reviews and columns|
Maier has written popular book reviews and Op-ed 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 appears as a guest on radio talk programs. Maier is an advisor to History News Network out of George Mason University.
Washington Post reviews
“Liberty's exiles” 02/22/2011. Maier’s approving review of Maya Jasanoff’s well-written “Liberty’s exiles: American loyalists in the Revolutionary world” and recalling Mary Beth Norton’s 1970 prize-winning “British Americans”. Compare with Thomas H. Bender in the New York Times 05/01/2011 “The King's men, after the American Revolution”.
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.)
“John Adams” May 27, 2001. Review of David McCullough’s “John Adams”. “The do-it-yourself society” March 1, 1998. On Paul Johnson’s “A history of the American people”. “Sparring for Liberty” November 1, 1998. On Eric Foner’s “The story of American freedom”. “James Madison made us up” July 3, 1988. On Edmund S. Morgan’s “Inventing the people: the rise of popular sovereignty in England and America”.
“Reversal of Fortune” November 16, 1997. on Richard M. Ketchum’s “Saratoga: turning point of America’s Revolutionary War”. “Continent of conquest” July 14, 1996. On John Keegan’s “Fields of battle: the wars for North America”. “The all-purpose bad guy” August 26, 1990. On Willard S. Randall’s “Benedict Arnold: patriot and traitor”. “The dissertation that would not die” July 30, 1989. On Frank Bourgin’s “The great challenge: the myth of laissez-faire in the Early Republic”.
“Children’s books: … getting it right” reviewing ten children’s books on Revolution and Constitution. “A world of women” December 12, 1982. On Barbara Strachey’s “Remarkable relations: the story of the Pearsall Smith women”. “Victorian Women, including Victoria” May 16, 1982. On Janet H. Murray’s “Strong-minded women and other lost voices from 19th Century England”. “A marriage that worked” September 1981. On Lynne Withey’s “Dearest friend: a life of Abigail Adams”.
“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’”, Dec 19-26, 2010. Viewed 05/16/2001.
TV and video series
- Yeung, Anna M., “Charles S. and Pauline R. Maier” in The Crimson online Fri. May 28, 2010. Viewed 04/22/2001.
- “Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series” vol. 150, 2006, Gale, Cengage Learning, Farmington Hills, MI
- Denison, Dave. “American truths, American myths” interview with Pauline Maier in Commonwealth Magazine, Fall 1998. Viewed 04/23/2011.
- Denison, Dave. Commonwealth Magazine, Fall 1998.
- Yeung, Anna M., Op. Cit.
- Denison, Dave. Op. Cit.
- http://www.samuelbrenner.com/BrownGLconference/Instructor/Maier.htm “Lehrman Lecturer Biography”
- “MIT Maier Web Page”, viewed 05/20/2011. The three early American history courses Maier teaches solo are undergraduate courses in American Revolution using Gordon S. Wood’s , ‘The American Revolution: a history’; American History to 1865, using ‘Inventing America”; and American Classics, primary sources, ‘often cited, seldom read’. “Riots, Strikes and Conspiracies in American History” uses Maier’s work for early periods, Fogelson’s for late. "MIT History undergrad courses"
- “MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (SHASS) department facebook”
- “MIT catalog humanities department history”
- Pauline Maier “MIT Maier webpage”, MIT faculty “Killian Committee” webpage.
- “American Antiquarian Society “Proceedings”, Oct 1981, p.177-195. The “American Antiquarian Society” is a national research library of American history literature & culture through 1876. Maier and spouse are listed in “membership” viewed 05/16/2011. The Society sponsored a “2006 Summer Institute” with the ‘Teaching American History’ grant to teach teachers with graduate level readings and guest lecturers. Maier’s “From Resistance to Revolution” and “American Scripture” were both required reading.
- “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.)
- “American Academy of Arts and Sciences” Membership has included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Hamilton, and John Quincy Adams.
- “CMS webpage”
- “Society of American Historians” (SAH) webpage viewed ‘home’ and ‘about us.board’ 05/01/2001.
- Woods, Gordon S., “The Great American Argument”, The New Republic, Dec 24, 2010, in the magazine Dec 30, 2010, viewed 05/14/2011.
- Rothbard, Murray N., “Modern historians confront the American Revolution.” Sat. May 12, 2007 http://mises.org/daily/2541 viewed 04/06/2011
- Johnson, K.C., in George Mason University’s “History News Network” article, critiquing "America’s Unfinished Revolution” symposium viewed 04/06/2011
- Martin, Raymond. “Progress in Historical Studies” http://www1.union.edu/martinr/documents/rm-progress50.pdf accessed 04/22/2011. p.6, 15
- Reid, John Philip. ”The concept of liberty” in the age of the American Revolution” p.10, 12
- Reid, John Philip. Op.Cit. p.14
- Egnal, Marc and Ernst, Joseph. “”An Economic Interpretation” of the American Revolution” WMQ Jan, 1972. p. 3, 9
- Egnal, Marc and Ernst, Joseph., op. cit., p.8
- “Popular Uprisings in Eighteenth-Century America”, Reprint of 50-year best: William and Mary Quarterly. 1, (1999): 138 OCLC 96273569
- Gould, Elga H., ““American Revolution”” p.1218 in Boyd, Kelly, ed., “Encyclopedia of historians and historical writing” (1999). Vol.2.
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., “Recent Themes in Early American History” 2008 U of SC Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-764-1 ISBN 978-1-570-03765-8 , p.1,2
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., Op.Cit., p.3, 9. Maier’s chapter is also found online in “Historically Speaking”: the bulletin of The Historical Society”. Mar/Apr 2005
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., Op.Cit., p.9
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., Op.Cit., p.41
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., Op.Cit., p.5
- Yerxa, Donald A., ed., Op.Cit., p.43
- “Google scholar” search ‘Pauline Maier’. All editions, four screens. Viewed 04/22/2011.
- “Google scholar” Op.Cit.
- 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”.
- "Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788", ISBN 978-0-684-86854-7, ISBN 978-1-4516-0636-2, ebook.
- “PR Newswire” viewed 05/25/2011.
- “Harvard Magazine" review. Reviewed by Richard Brookhiser in NYT book review Oct 31, 2010. Reviewed by G.S. Wood in New Republic Dec. 30, 2010 p.34-37.
- “Nation Building” NYT Book Review. “100 Notable Books of 2010”. David Sehat review “Intellectual History Blog” 12/14/2010. Synopsis on “Legal History Blog” 03/22/2011. Historian Jack Rakove review “Harvard Magazine” Mar-Apr 2011.
- “American Scripture”, Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 978-0-679-45492-6, Vintage ISBN 978-0-679-77908-6
- “From Resistance to Revolution” (W.W. Norton. paper 1992) ISBN 978-0-393-30825-9, ISBN 978-0-393-30825-1
- American Revolution”. “MIT open courseware” Undergraduate 21H.112 as taught in Spring 2006. viewed 05/08/2011; “Virginia Polytechnic University” course credit.
- “2006 Summer Institute”
- “Inventing America: a history of the United States , vol.1”, Pauline Maier, et al.,(2006). one-vol. Ed.2 Maier now lead author. recommended for Advanced Placement (AP) high school courses for college credit.ISBN 978-0-393-16814-3
- ”Yale University Courses” link viewed 05/11/2011 via “Sons of Liberty: an intercolonial network of organized resistance” found at “Rag Linen”. It quoted extensively from Maier’s 1992 edition of “From Resistance to Revolution”.
- “History News Network”, published by the George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. viewed 05/02/2011
 Further reading
 Lectures and panel discussions
|Lectures and panel discussions|
 TV and video series and programs
|TV and video series and programs|
- Pauline Maier MIT homepage. Maier has been a Professor of American History there since 1979.
- Booknotes interview with Maier on American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, August 17, 1997.
- In Depth interview with Meier, March 6, 2011
 Innovative places of scholarship
|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.