Emma Jones Lapsansky

Special Collections : Magill Library
(personal site)

Current Professional/Research Interests:

Family and community life, ante-bellum cities; architecture, material culture and community planning; religion and popular culture in nineteenth-century America; Quaker history; the American West; historical interpretation for popular audiences.

Public Lectures and workshops: Army Corps of Engineers, Brandywine Museum, Cliveden National Historic Site, Fraunces Tavern, Museum, Mercer Museum, University of Pennsylvania, West Chester University, Smithsonian Institution, other colleges, universities, historical societies, museums, senior citizens' groups, radio and television interviews.

Consultant: Afroamerican Historical and Cultural Museum, Atwater-Kent Museum, Chester County Historical Society, Historic Philadelphia, Inc., Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Philadelphia Maritime Museum, Please Touch Museum for Children, Bucknell University Department of History.

Grants Application Reviewer: American Council of Learned Societies, Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library Company of Philadelphia, National Endowment for the Humanities.

Community Service: 1992-95 Advisory Committee Friends Council on Education, 1986- Pemberton Grant Subcommittee Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1986-95 School Oversight Committee Lansdowne Friends School, 1978-96 Board of Trustees Friends Central School


  • Ph.D., American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania, 1975
    (Concentration in American Social History and Material Culture,
    with Anthony N. B. Garvan)
  • M.A., American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania, 1969
  • B.A., American History, University of Pennsylvania, 1968
  • Rare Book School, Columbia University, Summer, 1991
  • Summer Institute, Winterthur Museum, 1969
  • College of Information Studies, Drexel University, 1996

Recent Professional Experience

  • January 2011-Visiting Professor of History, Haverford College
  • July 2010-Professor of History Emeritus
  • July 1995-2010 Professor of History and Curator, Special Collections, Haverford College
  • July 1990 Assoc Professor of History and Curator, Special Collections Haverford College
  • Spring, 1990 Visiting Lecturer, History Department, Princeton University
  • 1988-95 Adjunct Professor, African American Studies University of Pennsylvania
  • 1973-90 Asst/then Assoc Professor, History (Assoc Dean, 1984-86),Temple University

Recent Publications, Presentations, Professional Activity

Monographs and edited volumes:
  • "Back to Africa? Benjamin Coates and Colonization, 1851-69" with with Margaret Hope Bacon ( Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005; pb 2008).
  • Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption, 1720-1920. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, edited with Anne A. Verplanck.
  • Neighborhoods in Transition: William Penn's Dream and Urban Reality. (Garland Press, 1994)
  • African American Lives, Struggle for Freedom, with Clayborne Carson and Gary B. Nash (Addison-Wesley-Longman, 2005;2009); United States History, with Peter B. Levy, Randy Roberts, Alan Taylor (Pearson-Prentice Hall secondary school division, 2006;2010)
  • "Making it Home:" The Black Presence in Pennsylvania.(Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1990; 2nd edition, 2001)
Recent Articles:
  • "Benjamin Coates and Africa in the Quaker Dream of Redemption," in K.K. Prah,ed, Back to Africa; Diaspora Returnees, their Communities and the Ideologies for Return (18th - 21st Century), Center for Advanced Studies of African Society, 2012.
  • "Identity, Spirituality, and Organization: the Episcopal Church in Early Pennsylvania," in David Contosta, ed, This Far by Faith,. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012.
  • " 'A Revolution in her own time': Philadelphia's Friendship Cooperative Housing, Inc.", in Festschrift of H. Larry Ingle. (2011)
  • "Plainness and Simplicity", forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, Ben Pink Dandelion and Stephen Angell, eds.
  • "At the End an Abolitionist?" in Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, Page Talbot, ed. (Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Pennsylvania 1800-1850” in Pennsylvania: A People's History, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003;
  • "New Eyes for Invisibles" in Quaker-Minority Relations," Quaker History, (90:1, Spring, 2001);
  • Entries in Billy G. Smith, ed. Encyclopedia of Colonial America (2003); entries in Margery Post Abbott, et al, Historical Dictionary of Quakerism (2002); Encyclopedia of Violence, (2001); Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture, (2001)
  • “The World the Agitators Made: The Counterculture of Agitation in Urban Philadelphia," in The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America, Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, eds. (1994).
  • “'Discipline to the Mind:' The Banneker Institute of Philadelphia, 1854-1872," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (January, 1993).
  • "Feminism and Freedom: Black Women's Strategies in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia," Pennsylvania of Magazine of History and Biography, (January, 1989).
    Book Reviews in: Journal of American History, Journal of the Early Republic, Journal of Southern History, Quaker History, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography; Enterprise and Society (2000, 2002), Quaker Studies(2002); Women's Review of Books (2001, 2002).
Recent Invited Lectures and Appearances
  • Forgotten Alternatives, Remembering Possibilities, 1750 and 2050," Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Conference on Pennsylvania Black History, 2002.
  • "Early Philadelphia: Chaos and Character," Cliveden National Historic Site Winter Institute, 2002.
  • "Free Produce, Free People: The Climate of Reform in Antebellum Philadelphia," Drexel University, 2002.
  • "ThePhiladelphia Cope Family and Nineteenth-Century Reform," Awbury Arboretum, 2001.
  • "Visualizing a World of Innocence: Quaker Leaders and their Lives," Pendle Hill, 2001.
  • "Spiritual Wellness in College," Guilford College, 2001.
  • "From Friendly Persuasion to Murder Among Friends: Quakers in the Eyes of 'World's People'," Chester Quarter, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Religious Society of Friends, 2001.
  • "Confronting Spirituality: Religion and Diversity in Modern America," Germantown Friends School, 2001
  • "Rethinking Feminism, Freedom, and Community", Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Black History Conference, 2001.
  • "Memory and History," Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, 2001.
    Radio appearances in PBS documentary, WHYY Radio on Delaware Valley African American history (2000);
Video appearances:
  • "Africans in America" PBS-WGBH series. 1998.
  • "Rebecca Lukens: Woman of Iron: America's First Industrialist", Nightingale Productions (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting), 1999.
Selected Recent Professional Activities
  • 2011-Consultant, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
  • 2011-National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Panel
  • 2010-2011 Consultant, Atwater-Kent Museum
  • 2009-2010 Consultant, History of Philadelphia Film
  • 2009-2010 Member Organization of American Historians Committee on the Status of Women
  • 2006/2010 Reader for College Board US History Advanced Placement Examination
  • 2008-2010 Consultant and teacher-trainer, Teaching American History, Susquehanna (PA) Area School District
  • 2004-2007 Review Panels for National Endowment for the Humanities
  • 2006-2012 College Board Redesign Commission for Advanced Placement in US History
  • 2003-present Board of Trustees, Library Company of Philadelphia
  • 2002-2003 Consultant Tri-State Heritage Tours; and Women's Rights National Historical Park
  • 2000-2003 Executive Committee, Organization of American Historians
  • 2004-Participant in Organization of American Historians Site Review for Independence National Historical Park
  • 2002-2005 Consultant, "Teaching American History in the Schools, School District of Philadelphia".
  • 1997-2000 Advisor, Pennsylvania Humanities Council: "Raising Our Sites" project for updating museum exhibitions to better include women and minorities.
  • 1996 Director, NEH Summer Institute, "Religion and Diversity in American Society"
  • 1995-97 Chair, Organization of American Historians, Committee on the Status of Women in the Historical Profession
  • 1992-Editorial Board, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
  • 1990-Board of Directors, Friends' Historical Association
  • 1990-Publications Review Committee Pendle Hill Pamphlets
  • 1980-ongoing Consultant to Public History institutions, e.g., Philadelphia African American Museum, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Valentine Museum (Richmond, VA), Seneca Falls National Historic Site