However solitary it may feel at times, the process of research and writing is in truth a collective endeavor, and my intellectual debts are numerous. I treasure the knowledge that every page of this book has been shaped by the collective insight and creativity of a group of extraordinary people. I am especially grateful to Jacquelyn Hall and Kathleen DuVal for their unwavering support and enthusiasm and for their unerring ability to tell me what it was I was really trying to say. Kathleen Brown, Crystal Feimster, John Kasson, Joy Kasson, and Heather Williams were generous with their time and knowledge, and their comments pushed me to clarify and expand my ideas. I am also grateful to the readers and editors at the University of North Carolina Press who helped push me through the final stages of this project.
This book would surely never have been completed without the insights of many friends and fellow historians who read chapter drafts, debated the intricacies of historical methodology, and in some cases picked apart my prose word by word. I am especially grateful to Rike Brühöfener, Mary Beth Chopas, Jennifer Donnally, Joey Fink, Aaron Hale-Dorrell, Jonathan Hancock, Rachel Hynson, Anna Krome-Lukens, Kim Kutz, Liz Lundeen, Zsolt Nagy, Rebecca Rosen, Jessie Wilkerson, and David Williard. I also gained invaluable feedback on numerous occasions from the members of the Triangle Working Group in Feminism and History and the Triangle Early American History Seminar.
I have been fortunate to receive support from many institutions that allowed me to expand the scope of my research. I am especially grateful to the American Association of University Women, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Massachusetts Historical Society for the generous funding that made it possible for me to pursue this research.
As it turns out, it takes a village to raise a historian. I owe a great deal to the historians of Grinnell College for first setting me on this path. Until I took their courses as an undergraduate, it never occurred to me that I could be a historian. I am particularly grateful to Sarah Purcell, Victoria Brown, George Drake, and Dan Kaiser, who amazed and inspired me with their teaching and scholarship, who taught me to think and to write, and who have been unstinting in their support and encouragement.
Too many friends and family to name—both near and far—have fed and housed me so that I could complete my research, given me their love and support, and patiently endured my elation and despair throughout the various stages of research and writing. In particular, I owe special thanks to Hannah Fuhr for the many laughs we have shared and for inadvertently starting me on this project many years ago with an offhand comment about breastfeeding.
In this as in everything, my deepest gratitude goes to my family. My parents, Mary Doyle and Steve Ostrem, have encouraged me in every endeavor, and their home has always been a place for me to recharge and return to the work of research and writing with renewed enthusiasm. My sister, Eve Doyle, inspires me to laugh and take myself less seriously. I am fortunate to have such a friend. My grandparents, John and Ruth Doyle and Fred and Helen Ostrem, instilled in me a love of books and history as a child and have always inspired me with their example of lives well lived.
My special love and gratitude go to David Winski, a true friend and companion who graciously tolerates my many historical tangents and reminds me of the things that are most important in life.