Cornelia H. Dayton

Portrait of Cornelia H. Dayton
Image Credit: Peter Morenus/UConn

Cornelia H. Dayton teaches colonial North American history, gender in the early modern period, and U.S. legal history at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Women before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 (1995) and a coauthor, with Sharon V. Salinger, of Robert Love's Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston (2014). Winner of the OAH Merle Curti Award, this work is a study of the Massachusetts practice of warning strangers and the lives of hundreds of ordinary people-on-the-move affected by it. Engaged for the past decade in exploring how mental and developmental disorders were understood and treated at the family and local levels prior to 1840, she is also investigating poor relief, almshouses, and the lives of African New Englanders.

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Dayton's research includes a cache of Essex County legal papers revealing that, when Phillis Wheatley Peters and her husband left Boston in 1780, they moved to Middleton where John became a landowner on a farm where he had been enslaved. She analyzes the racial, class, and gender conflicts that led to their eviction.