Mary Beth Norton

Mary Beth Norton (born 1943) is an American historian. She is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at the Department of History at Cornell University.[1][2]


Norton was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[1] She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts (1965) and Ph.D. (1969) from Harvard University,[1] under Bernard Bailyn. Her doctoral dissertation, The British-Americans, was published by Little, Brown and Company and won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians in 1970.[3]

Her book Founding Mothers and Fathers (1996) was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize.[1] She was co-editor, To Toil the Livelong Day (1987), Women of America (1979), Major Problems in American Women's History (4th ed., 2007),[1] and In the Devil's Snare (2002) about the Salem witch trials. She is also noted as one of the authors of the two-volume A People & A Nation, a popular American history textbook, currently in its ninth edition.[4]

Norton has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and as vice president for research of the American Historical Association.[1] She also served as the general editor of the AHA Guide to Historical Literature in 1995.[1] Norton was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999.[5] She was also elected Speaker of the third Cornell University Senate. Norton has won grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation,[6] and the Rockefeller Foundation.[1]

Norton was elected as president-elect of the American Historical Association in summer 2016. She will serve as president-elect during calendar 2017 and president in 2018. ref

Norton appears in a variety of history programs and documentaries about colonial times, including Salem Witch Trials in the Discovery Channel's Unsolved History series in 2003[7] and in Witch Hunt on the History Channel in 2004. She was interviewed in 2008 for the PBS Series History Detectives, on Season 6, Episode 7, "Front Street Blockhouse.".[8] She appears in Salem Witch Hunt: Examine the Evidence in 2011[9] for the Essex National Heritage Commission and the National Park Service[10][11] She also appeared in Episode 2 of Season 8 of the [TLC (TV network)|TLC] genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are? (U.S. TV series), in April, 2016, speaking with actor Scott Foley about his ancestor, Samuel Wardwell, who was executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials in 1692.[12]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Norton, Mary Beth, et al. "The Authors: Mary Beth Norton." A People & A Nation, Volume Two: Since 1865 (6th ed.) p. xxiii.
  3. "Allan Nevins Prize - Past Winners". Society of American Historians. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  4. Articles written by Norton have been published in William and Mary Quarterly, Signs, and the American Historical Review.
  5. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter N" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. "Episode Detail: Salem Witch Trials - Unsolved History". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  8. "Season 6, Episode 7: Front Street Blockhouse transcript" (PDF). History Detectives. PBS. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  9. "Salem Witch Hunt: Examine the Evidence". Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  10. "Salem Witch Trials Get A Second Look", by G. Jeffrey Macdonald, Washington Post, Nov. 8, 2011 -
  11. "Salem Witch Hunt:Examine the Evidence Premieres Oct. 4", Salem Gazette, September 30, 2011
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