Jen Manion is Associate Professor of History at Amherst College. She is a social and cultural historian whose work examines the role of gender and sexuality in American life. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (Penn, 2015) which received the inaugural Mary Kelley Best Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Their most recent book, Female Husbands: A Trans History (Cambridge, 2020) was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Manion has published dozens of essays for popular and scholarly audiences and serves on the editorial boards of Amherst College Press, Early American Studies, and The William and Mary Quarterly. She serves on the OAH Committee on the Status of LGBTQ Historians & Histories and the OAH Nominating Committee. Manion is working on a two-volume series, The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States with co-editor Nicholas Syrett. Previously, Jen worked for ten years at Connecticut College as a faculty member in the history department and founding director of the LGBTQ Resource Center. Jen received a PhD in history from Rutgers University and a BA in history with an English minor from the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude.

(media note: if you are wondering about pronouns, feel free to refer to me by my name, they/them, or she/her)


My research in American history centers on social and cultural histories of poor, marginalized, and otherwise ordinary people. My first book was a social history of the founding of the penitentiary in the United States that centered women and paid close attention to how race, class, gender, and sexuality shaped the process. Many concerns that define contemporary debates about mass incarceration were evident in the policies that governed punishment over two hundred years ago, including the criminalization of African Americans — especially women. My second book is a cultural history of “female husbands” in the eighteenth and nineteenth century UK and US.

My research has been generously supported by numerous grants and fellowships from the following: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard ; Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale; New England Regional Fellowship Consortium; Amherst College Trustee Faculty Fellowship; National Endowment for the Humanities at American Antiquarian Society; Mellon Grant at Massachusetts Historical Society; Research Matters Grants at Connecticut College; Mellon Grant at Library Company of Philadelphia & Historical Society of PA; Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Rutgers University Graduate School; McNeil Center for Early American Studies at Penn

Teaching & Service

My approach to history is informed by queer, feminist, and critical race theories — while remaining anchored in the archives. My main teaching fields include:

Intro Courses: History of Sexuality, LGBTQ History in Popular Culture, U.S. Carceral Culture
Upper Level Seminars: Global Transgender Histories, Revolutionary America, Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

Teaching Tools for LGBTQ History

Transgender Children in Antebellum America
Pennsylvania LGBTQ Histories
Histories of Sexuality & the Carceral State at Notches



Amherst College
Associate Professor of History
111 Chapin Hall
Amherst, MA 01002

email: jmanion at amherst dot edu
tweets: @activisthistory

Faculty profile

Headshot by Code Purple Photography

Background Photos by Jen Manion: National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC; Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond Visitors Center, Eastham MA; Hyde Park, London; American Antiquarian Society, Worcester MA; London Metropolitan Archives, London; Library of Congress, Washington DC; Paddington Station, London; Provincetown MA.