Faculty Profile

American Studies Faculty

Susan Ouellette, PhD

Professor of History
View Curriculum Vitae

B.A. SUNY Plattsburgh
M.A., Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Areas of Expertise:

Early America, including the first settlement up to the American Revolution period; Native Americans; Immigration history, especially the experience of Francophones in the Northeast; Textiles history; Women’s history; diaries and memoirs.

Courses I Teach:

  • The Age of American Revolution, 1763-1815
  • American Society and Culture to 1865
  • History of the American Family
  • Native Peoples of North America
  • The Roots of American Society, 1607-1763
  • Senior Seminar
  • Topics in Women's History and the History of Gender
  • United States History to 1865
  • Women in American Society

My Saint Michael's:

I value the opportunity to work closely with students in the classroom as well as in internship and independent scholarship.

One of the unique opportunities that students at Saint Michael's have is the ability to use the physical world they see around them to study history; I like to incorporate local places, documents, structures, and people to bring class work to life. For instance, a short trip down into Winooski can give students a rare view of early industrial sites; a look at the Mill museum is a chance to imagine life in the beginning of the industrial age.

Research Interests:

My research in my areas of expertise (Early America Native People; immigration history; textiles; women's history; diaries and memoirs) enhances my teaching. I often use materials I have collected in my research directly in the classroom. I also use my writing projects to model the process of research and writing for students.

My most recent published book is US Textile Production in Historical Perspective: A Case Study from Massachusetts (Rutledge Press, 2007). I am currently working on a biography of an early Vermont woman, Phebe Orvis, based on Orvis’ own journal; two journal articles on Orvis are already in press (Dublin Seminar Proceedings and Journal of Vermont History). I have also contributed a chapter on the political economy of textile work in early Massachusetts to an upcoming work by Barry Levy, Town Born (UPenn Press, forthcoming). In March 2007 I was a guest on Vermont Public Radio's Switchboard program, discussing my role in the Vermont Women's History Project.

Life Off Campus:

Outside Saint Michael's, I serve as an expert panel member on the Vermont Women's History project. I have also been a board member of the Mount Independence Historic Site and the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Committee. At home, I enjoy kayaking, country walks with my Jack Russell terrier, Chloe, and gardening.

Recent News

Susan Ouellette, professor of history and American studies, spoke May 20, 2018 in Ferrisburgh, VT, at the Rokeby Museum to open its 2018 special program series and season. Her topic was her recently published book, An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman which features research and analysis of the diary of Phebe Orvis, a 19th Century Bristol resident with ties to Vergennes and Middlebury. Earlier she appeared on Brave Little State, VPR’s "people-powered journalism podcast," exploring the history of French Canadian immigration in Vermont. She also was quoted in an April 24 column by James Pindell that appeared in the Boston Globe, titled “Believe it or not, a New England state is the only one to never send a woman to Congress,” in which Susan is quoted about women in Vermont’s political history. The Burlington Free Press interviewed her in March about that same topic. On April 7 Susan and history colleague Jenn Purcell were judges at the Vermont History day competitive event for middle/high school students who produce history projects – winners go on to national history day competitions in Washington, D.C. On April 14 she attended the New England Historical Association conference where she presented a paper “A Pragmatic Revolutionary: The Independence of William Gilliland,” and she is commenting on a panel of papers, “Identities in Conflict in Early America.”
(posted June 2018)

Susan Ouellette, professor of history, has received media attention for her most recent book: Arts writer Brent Hallenbeck in the Burlington Free Press this summer 2017 rounded up books by local authors that might make good summer reads, including Susan’s book, writing: “Susan M. Ouellette, ‘An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830’ (State University of New York Press, Albany) – The history professor at St. Michael’s College in Colchester writes about a woman who kept a detailed journal of her transition from single life to married life in New York and Vermont amid the nation’s evolving economic and social environment.” A report in the Addison County Independent newspaper also told of a presentation Susan made about her book with a reading and book-signing at the Vermont Book Shop in partnership with the Henry Sheldon Museum.
(posted December 2017)

Susan Ouellette, professor of history, has written a book, due for release in June 2017 by SUNY Press, titled An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830.  Susan also was a commenter at the New England Historians Association conference in Nashua, NH, on October 22, 2016, for a panel entitled “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History … Sometimes They End up Dead.”
(posted November 2016)

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