Cynthia A. Kierner: Women and Children First?

Today we welcome a guest post from Cynthia A. Kierner, author of Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood, published this month by UNC Press. When hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other disasters strike, we count our losses, search for causes, commiserate with victims, and initiate relief efforts. Amply… Continue Reading Cynthia A. Kierner: Women and Children First?

Cynthia A. Kierner: Taking the Kid to Europe

Although she returned to Virginia and lived the vast bulk of her life as a plantation mistress in rural Albemarle County, as a widow she chose to spend most of her time in Boston or Washington, D.C. And she often recalled her time in Paris as “the brightest part” of her life. Continue Reading Cynthia A. Kierner: Taking the Kid to Europe

Interview: Cynthia Kierner on the Life of Martha Jefferson Randolph

The performance of domesticity is a major theme of my book and the main means by which Martha helped construct her father’s public image as a virtuous republican family man while he was alive. Martha visited Washington twice during Jefferson’s presidency. Her presence, and that of her children, helped Jefferson to present himself to the public as a family man at the very time when his political enemies were spreading the scandal about him and Sally Hemings. Continue Reading Interview: Cynthia Kierner on the Life of Martha Jefferson Randolph

Cynthia A. Kierner: The Third First Family

Thomas Jefferson—arguably the most outspokenly anti-monarchical of all—pioneered the use of family and domesticity as political theater. His daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, was the star of these shows. Continue Reading Cynthia A. Kierner: The Third First Family