Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Subject Categories

American Studies | Publishing | United States History | Women's Studies


Biography, Historiography, New York history, Women’s history, History of the book, Bibliography


On June 16, 1883, Harper’s Weekly ran a story foreshadowing the transformation of the City of New York from the island of Manhattan to a massive metropolis, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Another article on the page announced that Martha J. Lamb “has become editor of the ‘The Magazine of American History.’” It does not mention that she was also president of the company purchasing the journal. Ten years later, just a few months after her death, Mrs. Lamb’s great work, her History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress, was included in the library of books sent by New York State women to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was a fitting honor for the woman, the author, editor, and historian, who moved freely from literary club meetings in her apartment at the Coleman House to being feted at the White House.

This biography seeks to reintroduce Martha J. Lamb (1826-1893) and give her a place among the scholars who fashioned American History, and among the women who recognized the opportunities available to them in publishing in New York in the nineteenth century. Using primary source materials, including newspapers and magazines, as well as Martha Lamb’s letters, journals, and other papers, the thesis presents the introduction and two chapters of what is imagined as the full telling of Mrs. Lamb’s life. The periods selected are just before and just after the publication of her main work, her History, moments of transformation for Martha Lamb, junctures at which her personal life became public.