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Susan M. Yohn

Professor Emerita of History


PHD, 1987, New York Univ (NYU); MA, 1986, New York Univ (NYU); BA, 1979, Mount Holyoke Coll


Susan Yohn, who retired in 2017, is a social historian who studies women and gender in modern America.  Her book, A Contest of Faiths: Missionary Women and Pluralism in the American Southwest (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), won Hofstra University’s Stessin Prize for Outstanding Scholarship in 1996.  This book, which examined the meeting between Protestant missionaries and Hispanic Catholics in New Mexico in the late 19th century, has been followed by a series of articles focusing on women’s changing economic role as businesswomen and capitalists.

Yohn served seven years as Chair of the History Department at Hofstra University, and was also the Chair of the Chairs’ Caucus at the University. She also served as Director of the Women’s Studies Program at Hofstra. In 2013 she was chosen by Hofstra students as the Distinguished Teacher of the Year in the College of the Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In 2014 Yohn was elected to a three-year term as President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. The Berkshire Conference organizes a triennial conference that is the largest international gathering of historians studying the history of women and gender.

During her tenure as president the conference -- known as the Big Berks -- was held at Hofstra University.

Current Project

Yohn has several projects underway.  She is exploring the impact of the glass ceiling on women’s mobility within corporate structures in the latter part of the 20th century.  She is also in the process of mapping the Brooklyn businesswomen who were the subjects of her 2010 article in the Journal of Urban History in an effort to create a visualization of the spaces in which they plied their trades.

Selected Publications

A Contest of Faiths: Missionary Women and Pluralism in the American Southwest (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995).

“The Primacy of Place, Collaborations, and Alliances:  Mapping the Topography of Women’s Businesses in Nineteenth Century Brooklyn,” Journal of Urban History, Vol. 36, No. 4, (2010), pp. 411-428.

“Crippled Capitalists: Gender Ideology, the Inscription of Economic Dependence and the Change of Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Feminist Economics, special edition on Women and Wealth, 12(1-2), January/April 2006: 85-109.

“Let Christian women set the example in their own gifts: The “Business” of Protestant Women’s Organizations” in Women and Twentieth-Century Protestantism (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois, 2001) and More Money, More Ministry: Money, and Evangelicals in Recent American History (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing CO., 2000).

Teaching Interests

Susan Yohn has taught a range of courses in American history including the introductory survey, course[s] examining the social and political history of the United States in the 20th century, as well as a survey in American women’s history. She has developed specialized classes in the History of Material Culture, the History of Marriage, and the History of Surveillance. She has also taught courses in her subfield of Latin American History.

Research Interests

American social history, specializing in women's economic history, 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo of Susan Yohn

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