Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Cathleen Cahill

Cathleen Cahill

Associate Professor of History

301 Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-0086

Cathleen Cahill Headshot



  1. Ph.D., in History, University of Chicago, 2004
  2. M.A., in Social Science, University of Chicago, 1996
  3. B.A., in History and B.A. in English, University of California, Davis, 1995
Cathleen D. Cahill is a social historian who explores the everyday experiences of ordinary people, primarily women. She focuses on women’s working and political lives, asking how identities such as race, nationality, class, and age have shaped them. She is also interested in the connections generated by women’s movements for work, play, and politics, and how mapping those movements reveal women in surprising and unexpected places. She is the author of Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869–1932 (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), which won the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award and was a finalist for the David J. Weber and Bill Clements Book Prize.  She is currently engaged in two book projects. Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement (forthcoming Fall 2020) follows the lead of feminist scholars of color calling for alternative “genealogies of feminism.” It is a collective biography of six suffragists–Yankton Dakota Sioux author and activist Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša); Wisconsin Oneida writer Laura Cornelius Kellogg; Turtle Mountain Chippewa and French lawyer Marie Bottineau Baldwin; African American poet and clubwoman Carrie Williams Clifford; Mabel Ping Hau Lee, the first Chinese woman in the United States to earn her PhD ; and New Mexican Hispana politician and writer Nina Otero Warren–both before and after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Her next project, Indians on the Road: Gender, Race, and Regional Identity reimagines the West Coast through the lens of Indigenous people’s relationships with the transportation systems that bisected their lands, forming corridors of conquest and environmental change while simultaneously connecting them in new and sometimes empowering ways to other people and places.



 Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement (University of North Carolina Press Forthcoming Fall 2020)

 Indian Cities: Histories of Indigenous Urbanism co-edited with Kent Blansett and Andrew Needham (Under contract with University of Oklahoma Press)

“‘Our Democracy and the American Indian’: Citizenship, Sovereignty, and Native Feminists in the 1920s,” Special Forum on 1920 Ed. Liette Gidlow, Journal of Women’s History (Forthcoming)

“A Matter of History: Carrie W. Clifford Claiming Freedom Through History” in Women Claiming Freedom: Slavery, Race, and Resistance Across the Americas Ed. Erica L. Ball, Tatiana Seijas, and Terri L. Snyder (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming Fall 2020)

Urban Indians, Native Networks, & the Creation of Modern Regional Identity in the American Southwest,” inRepresenting Native Peoples,” Special Issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal Ed. Liza Black and Nicholas Rosenthal (2018) Vol. 42, No. 3.

“‘An Old and Faithful Employee’: Obligation, Social Provision, and Federal Retirement Pensions in the U.S. Indian Service” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (October 2015) Vol. 14 Issue 4

 “Making and Marketing Baskets: The WNIA and Indigenous Basketmakers in California,” in The Women’s National Indian Association, ed. Valerie Shear Mathes (University of New Mexico Press, 2015)

 “‘Nobel women not a few’: The Women’s National Indian Association and the Lake Mohonk Conferences,” in The Women’s National Indian Associationed. Valerie Shear Mathes (University of New Mexico Press, 2015)

“Moving in Multiple Worlds: Native Indian Service Employees,” in Beyond Two Worlds, ed. Jim Buss and Joseph Genetin-Pilawa (SUNYUP, 2014)

“Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin: Indigenizing the Federal Indian Service,” in “The Society of American Indians and Its Legacies,” a special combined issue of Studies in American Indian Literatures and American Indian Quarterly (edited by Chadwick Allen and Beth H. Piatote) 2013

 “‘An Indian Teacher Among Indians’: Native Women as Federal Employees,” in Indigenous Women and Work: From Labor to Activism, ed. Carol Williams (University of Illinois Press, 2012)

“Seeking the Incalculable Benefit of a Faithful, Patient Man and Wife: Families in the Federal Indian Service” in On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the American West Ed David Adams and Crista DeLuzio (University of California Press, 2012)

Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869-1932 (University of North Carolina Press, 2011)

“‘You think it strange that I can love an Indian’: Native Men, White Women, and Marriage in the Indian Service,” in Cathleen D. Cahill, Susan Gray, Jacki Thompson Rand and Kerry Wynn, eds., “Intermarriage in American Indian History: Explorations in Power and Intimacy in North America” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies


Awards and Fellowships:

Charles Redd Center  Fellowship Award in Western American History (2018)

UNM Feminist Research Institute, Faculty Research Grant (2015)

Newberry Short-Term Fellowship, Newberry Library, Chicago (2013-2014)

Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award for Federal Fathers and Mothers (2012)

Finalist (one of two), Weber-Clements Book Prize, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, for Federal Fathers & Mothers (2012)

Bill and Rita Clements Fellowship, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University (2009-2010)


Recent Courses:

Hist. 83 Women, Race, & the Right to Vote
Hist. 117/Wm Stds. 117 U.S. Women’s History
Hist. 445 The Emergence of Modern America, 1876-1932

Areas of Specialization: