American History; Public History/Museum Studies; Oral History; Gender Studies; Jewish History
Ph.D., Boston University
M.A., University of Massachusetts
A.B., Smith College
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Susan Porter is an historian whose primary research fields are nineteenth-century American social history, gender history, child welfare history, and Jewish history. An experienced public historian/museum consultant who researches families and buildings for historic house museums and plans and implements museum interpretations, exhibitions, and oral history projects, she is currently completing a project for the National Park Service at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont.
Susan held several faculty positions and was Associate Professor of History at Simmons College (1990-1997). From 2000-2005 she was Research Manager at Historic New England (2000-2005) and from 2005-2012 she was affiliated with the museum studies program at the Harvard Extension School. She was awarded two fellowships at Radcliffe (1989-1990; 1997-1999).
Susan’s publications include three co-authored books, Becoming American Jews (Brandeis University Press, 2009), The Pierce House Historic Property Report (Historic New England, 2005), and Historic Furnishings Report, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, 3 volumes, 2013; an edited book, Women of the Commonwealth, Work, Family, and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), and several articles.
In addition to her work as a museum consultant, Susan Porter continues to work on several projects relating to nineteenth-century social history, including a book on children who lived in early 19th century American orphanages and manuscripts on middle-class boarding houses and connections between Progressive Jews and Christians in Boston.
Porter, Susan. “A Good Home: Indenture and Adoption in American Orphanages, 1800-1850.” Adoption in America: Historical Perspectives. Edited by E. Wayne Carp. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
Dwyer-Ryan, Meaghan, Susan L. Porter, and Lisa Fagin Davis, Becoming American Jews, Temple Israel of Boston. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2009.