Edith B. Gelles is a senior scholar with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. For thirty years, her research has focused on women in colonial America and especially on Abigail Adams and her family. Most recently, Gelles is the editor of Abigail Adams: Letters (2016). She has also written two biographies of Adams: Portia: World of Abigail Adams (1992), which the American Historical Association's Herbert Feis Award, and Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage (2009), which was a finalist for the George Washington Prize. She has also edited and written an extensive introduction to The Letters of Abigaill Levy Franks, 1733-1748 (2004), the earliest surviving corpus by a woman in the colonial western world. Gelles has taught American women's history as well as the survey of world history, and she has appeared on several television documentaries, including the recent cnn series on First Ladies.
Abigail Adams's letters are the best record we have of women's experience during the Revolutionary era of American history. Her letters are artistry; she had the gift of language and she told stories. Her own story is intriguing,important,and enduring as history of her time, as women's history and as biography. This lecture locates Abigail at the center of all three.