Current C.V.



PhD:  American Studies, The University of Pennsylvania, 1999. Dissertation:  “Refined Tastes:  Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America”

MA:  Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University, 1993. Thesis:  “In Our Homes We Must Have Industry and Sympathy:  Early Twentieth-Century Advertising Recipe Booklets and American Domestic Culture”

MFA:  Printmaking, Montana State University, 1990. Thesis show, prints and sculptures:  “Cake-O-Rama.” (Minor concentration art history)

BFA:  Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Iowa State University, 1986. (Minor, art history)

Selective Professional Experience:

Consulting Historian. EBSCO Publishing, 2008-present

Curator of Printed Books. Library Company of Philadelphia, 2004-2008

Bibliographer, Program in Early American Economy and Society. Library Company of Philadelphia, 1999-2008

Instructor, “Alternative Printmaking” and “Basic Etching.” Fleisher Art Memorial, 2002-present



In Hock:  Pawning in America from Independence through the Great Depression (University of Chicago Press, 2010; paperback, 2012).

Refined Tastes:  Sugar, Consumers, and Confectionery in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002).

Articles and Chapters:

“The Rise of the Consumer in the Age of Jackson,” in The Blackwell Companion to Andrew Jackson, ed. by Sean P. Adams (Blackwell Publishing, forthcoming).

“Wishful Thinking: Retail Premiums and Consumer Desire in 19th-Century America,” under consideration, Enterprise & Society, 2012.

“A Brief History of the American Pawnshop,” Bloomberg Echoes (February 9, 2012).

Review essay:  A New Nation of Goods:  The Material Culture of Early America by David Jaffee, Journal of the Early Republic (Summer, 2011).

“The Great Expansion of Capitalism in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century and Its Lessons for Today,” invited “Ask the Author Column,” Common-place (July, 2010)

Review essay:  Dangerous to Know:  Women, Crime, and Notoriety in the Early Republic by Susan Branson and The Flash Press:  Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York by Patricia Cline Cohen, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, in the Journal of the Early Republic (Fall, 2009).

“In Hock:  Pawning in Early America,” Journal of the Early Republic (Spring 2007).

“American Leisure in the Library Company’s Books and Printed Ephemera Collections,” The Magazine Antiques (August, 2006).

“Sugar,” “Candy,” entries for The [Oxford] Companion to  Food and Drink in America (Oxford UP, 2006; revised edition, forthcoming, 2012).

“Sugar,” “Candy,” “Ice Cream,” “Hershey’s,” “Wedding Cakes,” entries for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford UP, 2003).

“Consumerism and Consumption” entry for The Encyclopedia of Material Culture  (ABC-CLIO, 2002).

“Girls and Sweets” entry for Girlhood in America:  An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2001).

Multiple entries, The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture (St. James Press, 2000), including:  fast food, nickelodeons, bowling, Mother’s Day, greeting cards, industrial design, plastic, and Jell-O.

Curated Exhibitions:

“Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th-Century America,” invited guest curator, Library Company of Philadelphia, January – August, 2012.

“Pennsylvania German Broadsides:  Windows into an American Culture,” Library Company of Philadelphia, 2005- 2006.  With Don Yoder.

“From the Bottom Up:  Popular Reading and Writing in the Michael Zinman Collection of Early American Imprints,” Library Company of Philadelphia, 2004.  With James Green.

“Risky Business:  Winning and Losing in the Early American Economy, 1780-1850,” Library Company of Philadelphia, 2003.  With Cathy Matson.


“Trickle-Down Economies: Junkers, Scavengers, and Beggars in 19th-Century America,” Library Company of Philadelphia Annual Meeting, May, 2012.

“Shylock in the Pawnshop: Anti-Semitic Portrayals of Pawnbrokers in 19th-Century America,” University of Florida, Gainesville, Center for Jewish Studies, April, 2012.

“Early American Persuasion and the Rise of Modern Consumer Culture,” keynote address, Before Madison Avenue: Advertising in Early America, CHAVIC Conference, Worcester, Mass., November, 2011.

“Seeing Shylock:  Images of Pawning in Three Centuries,” invited talk for the Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia, April, 2011.

“Nothing for Something: Retail Premiums and Consumer Behavior in Nineteenth-Century America,” Hagley Research Seminar Series, February, 2011.

“Nothing for Something:  The Lure of Retail Premiums in Nineteenth-Century America,” Business History Conference, Athens, GA, March, 2010.

“Fence-ing Lessons:  Stolen Goods in New York City,” Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic Conference, Springfield, IL, July, 2009.

“Rags to Riches:  Junk Shops in the Nineteenth-Century City,” American Studies Association Conference, Philadelphia, October, 2007.

“Testing the Boundaries of Licit and Illicit Market Activity in the Early Republic,” session chair and organizer, SHEAR Conference, Worcester, MA, July, 2007.

“Sugar as the First ‘Junk’ Food,” invited paper, “Food for Thought,” the twelfth annual Williams Research Center Symposium, Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, LA, January, 2007.

“Hammer Time:  Spurious Auctions and the Public Spectacle of Antebellum Deception,” SHEAR Conference, Montreal, July, 2006.

“The Origins of Sugar as a ‘Drug’ Food,” invited paper, Anthropology and Sociology Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association Conference, New Orleans, LA, June, 2006.

“In Hock:  Pawning in Early America,” invited paper, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Summer Seminar Series, June, 2006.

“Research into the Ephemera Collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia,” invited paper, Ephemera Society Annual Conference, Stamford, CT, March, 2006.

“The Ephemera Collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia,” Ephemera Across the Atlantic Conference, Winterthur Museum and Library Company of Philadelphia, September, 2005.

“In Hock:  Pawnbroking in Early America,” invited paper, brownbag seminar, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, May, 2005.

“Sweetness and Power:  Sugar in World History,” invited paper, Managing and Understanding Sweetness Conference, Oldways Preservation Trust, Mexico City, October, 2004.


“Printing for Bookarts,” Fleisher Art Memorial, 2009-present

“Alternative Printmaking,” Fleisher Art Memorial, 2003-present

“American Consumerism and Consumption,” History, University of Pennsylvania, 2003

“Gender and Leisure in American History,” Women’s Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2001

“American Material Culture,” Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 1998, 1999

Professional Affiliations:

Member, American Literary Association

Member, American Historical Association

Member, American Studies Association

Member, Business History Conference

Member, National Coalition of Independent Scholars

Member, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

Affiliated Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies