History Department


Judith Ridner Email Judith A. Ridner

Associate Professor and Chair
Ettinger 300B

B. A., Dickinson College
M. A. & Ph.D. William & Mary

Teaching Fields:
Colonial and Revolutionary America

Because I was trained as a social and cultural historian of Colonial and Revolutionary America, and worked for several years as an historical archaeologist with Colonial Williamsburg, my teaching focuses primarily on how the various peoples of our past (white and non-white, wealthy and poor, women and men, native-born and immigrant) lived their lives and interacted.

In my courses, which all emphasize discussion and writing, students read many first-person narratives, journals, and travel writings.  They also examine the spaces people inhabited and the goods they owned to understand better how the diverse peoples of America's past experienced their worlds.

To date, my research has focused on the early Pennsylvania frontier and its colonists.  My recent book, A Town In-Between: Carlisle Pennsylvania and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior, which was published as part of the Early American Studies series at University of Pennsylvania Press, reconsiders the role early American towns—and Scots-Irish colonists—played in the development of the first American West.  My new project, a book-length study tracing how memories of violence carried over from seventeenth-century Ireland to eighteenth-century America, builds upon my interests in the frontier and the Scots-Irish. 

Aside from my work in early America, I (along with my colleague, Susan Clemens-Bruder) have been involved in an ongoing local oral history project that is telling the histories of African-Americans in the Lehigh Valley.  We are currently at work on a writing book from this research and will be teaching an oral history methods course in fall 2010, which we hope will become a regular part of the department’s offerings.

Courses Taught:
Coming to America
Cultural Encounters and American Identity
Colonial America
Revolutionary America
Constitutional History of the US
Women's America
The American Frontier
Special Topics: Preserving Life Stories: Oral History Methods and Practice

A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Making of the Mid-Atlantic Interior, 1750-1800, Early American Studies Series, University Pennsylvania Press (2010).
A Town In-Between Cover

"Building Urban Spaces for the Interior: Thomas Penn and the Colonization of Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania” to appear in Early American Cartographies, ed. Martin Brueckner (Chapel Hill: published for OIEAHC by UNC Press-- forthcoming).

"Relying on the ‘Saucy’ Men of the Backcountry: Middlemen and the Fur Trade in Pennsylvania” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (April 2005): 133-162.

“’What an Addition to my Happiness has my Wife and Children been to Me’?: Three Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Husbands ‘Talk’ to and about Their Wives,” Pennsylvania History (Fall 2003): 305-330.

"William Irvine and the Complexities of Manhood and Fatherhood in the Pennsylvania Backcountry,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Jan/April 2001): 5-34.

Conference Presentations:
[With Susan Clemens-Bruder] “Translating African-American Oral History into Theater:  A Case Study from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley,” presented at the Oral History Association Conference, Louisville (October 2009].

"(Re)Assessing Loudon’s Indian Narratives as Text on Race and Ethnic Identity on the Mid-Atlantic Frontier,” presented at the EC/ASECS (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) Annual Meeting, Bethlehem (October 2009).

"What Does Being Irish Have to Do With It?: The Paxton Boys and Their Critics, 1764,” presented at the Irish and the Atlantic World Conference, Charleston (February 2007).