Faculty Bio

Lydia Murdoch

Professor of History and Director of Victorian Studies

Lydia Murdoch is a historian of modern Britain and the British Empire.  Originally from Kents Store, Virginia, she earned her B.A. in History from Vassar College (1992) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in British History and Victorian Studies from Indiana University (2000). She is author of Daily Life of Victorian Women (2014) and Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London (2006).  Professor Murdoch is currently writing a book about the public forms of grief and discourses surrounding the death of children in Victorian England.  Her primary research interests include the social and cultural history of modern Britain, childhood, gender, and urban life. 

In addition to introductory Women's Studies and British history courses, Professor Murdoch teaches classes on Victorian Britain, the British Empire, the First World War, and the history of childhood in nineteenth-century Britain. She is the director of Vassar's Victorian Studies program, a former director of Women's Studies, and a current participant in the Urban Studies and Women’s Studies multidisciplinary programs.

PUBLICATIONS

Books

Daily Life of Victorian Women (Greenwood Press, 2014).

Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London (Rutgers University Press, 2006).  ACLS E-Book, 2007.

Called by Death: Child Mortality and the Politics of Grief in Nineteenth-Century England (current project in progress).

Guest Editor

Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3 (Fall 2015), special issue on childhood and death co-edited with Kathleen Jones and Tamara Myers. 

Articles and Chapters

"Guest Editors' Introduction," with Kathleen Jones and Tamara Myers, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3 (Fall 2015): 339-340.

"'The Dead and the Living': Child Death, the Public Mortuary Movement, and the Spaces of Grief and Selfhood in Victorian London," Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3, special issue guest edited by Kathleen Jones, Lydia Murdoch, and Tamara Myers (Fall 2015): 378-402.

"Anti-vaccination and the Politics of Grief for Children in Late-Victorian England," in Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives, ed. Stephanie Olsen (London: Palgrave Macmillan History of Emotions Series, 2015), 242-260. 

"Carrying the Pox: The Use of Children and Ideals of Childhood in Early British and Imperial Campaigns Against Smallpox," The Journal of Social History 48.3 (Spring 2015): 511-535.  Winner of the Society for the History of Children and Youth's 2016 Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article (English).

"Alice and the Question of Victorian Childhood," in The Age of Alice: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Nonsense in Victorian England: An Exhibition Catalogue (Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College Libraries, 2015), 11-19.

“‘Suppressed Grief’: Mourning the Death of British Children and the Memory of the 1857 Indian Rebellion,” The Journal of British Studies, vol. 51.2 (April 2012): 364-392.  Winner of the 2012 INCS (Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies) Essay Prize.

Review Essay, Unknown London, 1815-45, 6 volumes (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2000), ed. by John Marriott.  Victorians Institute Journal vol. 30 (2002): 179-189.

“From Barrack Schools to Family Cottages: Creating Domestic Space for Late-Victorian Poor Children,” in Child Welfare and Social Action in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: International Perspectives, ed. by Jon Lawrence and Pat Starkey (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2001), 147-173.

Book Reviews

Professor Murdoch has published reviews for American Historical Review;  Bulletin of the History of Medicine;  Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History;  Journal of British Studies;  Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth; Journal of Interdisciplinary History;  Journal of Victorian Culture;  Social History; and Victorian Studies.

Select Honors and Grants

Winner of the Society for the History of Children and Youth's Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article (English), 2016

Howard Fellowship, The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, Brown University, 2014-2015, postponed 2015-2016

Winner of the INCS (Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies) Essay Prize, 2012

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2002

Walter L. Arnstein Dissertation Prize for Research in Victorian Studies, 1998