Department of History

Wendy Gamber

  • Byrnes Professor, Department of History


  • Ph.D. at Brandeis University, 1991

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 819
(812) 855-5876


Wendy Gamber

My research centers on the social and cultural history of the nineteenth-century United States, with particular attention to relationships between gender and economy. My first book, The Female Economy (1997), focused on the custom dressmaking and millinery trades, underscoring the gendered consequences of economic change-what was lost and what was gained as a nineteenth-century "female economy" largely controlled by women gave way to a twentieth-century clothing industry largely controlled by men. My recently released book, The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth-Century America, focuses on how the ubiquitous but much-maligned boardinghouse helped to construct the very idea of home and the ways in which both landladies and boarders negotiated powerful-if often illusory-dichotomies between home and market, public and private, love and money, boardinghouse and home. I am currently at work on a book-length microhistory that explores the social, cultural, and political consequences of a murder (one involving outwardly respectable middle-class women as perpetrator and victim) in late-nineteenth-century Indianapolis.

Selected Awards

  • Trustees Teaching Award
  • Course release and research grant, College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Institute, Indiana University
  • Fellow, Lilly Freshman Learning Project, Indiana University
  • Short-term fellowship, Newberry Library

Research Interests

  • Nineteenth-century United States (social and cultural aspects)
  • Women and gender

Courses Recently Taught

  • The Nineteenth-Century United States
  • History of the American Home
  • Gender and Sexuality in American History
  • Gender and American Business
  • America before the Civil War
  • American history to 1865

Publication Highlights


The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth-Century America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

[Co-edited with Michael Grossberg and Hendrick Hartog] American Public Life and the Historical Imagination. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.

The Female Economy: The Millinery and Dressmaking Trades, 1860-1930. Urbana and Chicago: The University of Illinois Press, 1997.


“Away from Home: Middle-Class Boarders in the Nineteenth-Century City.” Journal of Urban History 31 (March 2005): 289-305.

“Tarnished Labor: The Home, the Market, and the Boardinghouse in Antebellum America,” Journal of the Early Republic 22 (Summer 2002): 177-204.