Susan J. Pearson is a historian of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States. She is particularly interested in the cultural politics of reform, the expansion of the state and forms of governance, and the development of American liberalism. Pearson is the author of the prizewinning book, The Rights of the Defenseless: Protecting Animals and Children in Gilded Age America (2011), as well as essays and articles in the Journal of American History, History and Theory, the Journal of Social History, and the Journal of the Civil War Era. Pearson is now at work on a new project that examines the spread of compulsory and universal birth registration in the United States. Her research details how a once locally and unevenly practiced form of record keeping became the most essential mechanism for recording and establishing individual identity.