Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
President, Massachusetts Historical Society
Website URL
Women's history, Founders, First Ladies, Civic Engagement, Public History, Washington, DC history, History Day, Coverture, Women's citizenship
Additional Contact Information
My phone number is: (617) 646-0520

Personal Info

About Me

Catherine Allgor is the president of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  Previously, she had been the Nadine and Robert Skotheim Director of Education at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, and a formerProfessor of History and UC Presidential Chairat the University of California, Riverside.  Allgor attended Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins Scholar and received her Ph.D. with distinction from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Award.  Her dissertation received a prize as the best dissertation in American History at Yale and The Lerner-Scott Prize for the Best Dissertation in U.S. Women’s History.  She began her teaching career at Simmons College and has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a Visiting Professor of History at Harvard University. Her first book, Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government(University Press of Virginia, 2000), won the James H. Broussard First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association Annual Book Award.  Her political biography, A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation(Henry Holt, 2006), was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.  In 2012, she published Dolley Madison: The Problem of National Unity(Westview Press) and The Queen of America: Mary Cutts’s Life of Dolley Madison(University of Virginia Press).  President Obama has appointed Allgor to a presidential commission, The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.   Catherine Allgor also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Women’s History Museum.

Recent Publications



Dolley Madison:  The Problem of National Unity(Westview Press/Perseus Books, 2012)

The Queen of America: Mary Cutts’s Life of Dolley Madison(University of Virginia Press, 2012)

A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

(Henry Holt, April 2006).

Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

(University Press of Virginia, 2000).


Journal Articles

“‘Believing the Ladies had great influence’: Patronage and Politics: Early National

American Women’s Patronage in Trans-Atlantic Context,” American Political Thought(Winter, 2015

“Margaret Bayard Smith’s 1809 Journey to Monticello and Montpelier: The Politics of Performance in the Early Republic,” Early American Studies(Winter 2012)


Media Coverage
"BackStory with the American History Guys" 2016  "Politically Incorrect: Speech in American Politics"  "You've Come a Long Way?: A History of Women in Politics" "Dolley Madison as Citizen," for "Constitutional Conversations," James Madison Memoria
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
17th century, 18th century, 19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
American Revolution, American Founding Era, American Presidents, Gender, Libraries & Archives, Museums, Politics, Public History, Women