female husbands

Winner! Best Book Prize, British Association for Victorian Studies
Finalist! Lawrence Levine Award, Organization of American Historians

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Book Talk (15 minutes)

May we all be so brave


Jen Manion is Professor of History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies 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 a finalist for the OAH Lawrence Levine Award for the best book in U.S. cultural history and recipient of the best book prize by the British Association of Victorian Studies. This research 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. 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 (preferred) but if you insist on gendered language, they/them, or she/her will do. My thoughts on pronouns can be found here.)


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 research has been generously supported by numerous grants and fellowships over the years including 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


Transgender Children in Antebellum America / OUT History

American Social History Project / Teaching & Learning LGBTQ History
Digital Transgender Archive
Sexuality & the Carceral State / NOTCHES
ACT UP Oral History Project
LGBTQ+ History Curriculum / NYC DOE
LGBTQ Digital History Collaboratory
Inclusive Curriculum Massachusetts
Making Gay History Podcast

LGBTQ+ Archival Collections

LGBTQ+ History Documentaries


Amherst College
Professor of History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies
Box 5000
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.