Lydia Murdoch

Professor of History
Lydia Murdoch wearing a blue shirt against a light background.

Professor Lydia Murdoch is author of Daily Life of Victorian Women (2014) and Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London (2006). Her current book project–“What We Mourn: Child Death and the Politics of Grief in Modern Britain”—explores public mourning and political discourses surrounding the death of children in British, imperial, and transatlantic contexts over the long nineteenth century. She is also researching a future project on the use of children as medical subjects, particularly in the spread of the first smallpox vaccines.

Professor Murdoch's classes include “Victorian Britain,” “The British Empire,” and “The History of Childhood in Modern Britain,” in addition to co-taught multidisciplinary classes such as “Smallpox: The Biology and History of a Disease” and “Revolution, Evolution, and the Global Nineteenth Century.”



BA, Vassar College; MA, PhD, Indiana University-Bloomington
At Vassar since 2000


Swift Hall
Box 638
Leave Fall Semester

Research and Academic Interests

Modern British and Imperial History
History of Childhood
Women and Gender
Urban History
History of Emotions
History of Medicine


HIST 151 British History: James I (1603) to the Great War
HIST/VICT 354 History and the Politics of Grief
HIST/VICT /WMST355 Childhood and Children in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Selected Publications


Guest Editor

  • Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3 (Fall 2015), special issue on childhood and death co-edited with Kathleen Jones and Tamara Myers.

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • “‘What I Did at Vassar Stayed with Me’: Victorian Studies and Activism, a Case Study,” co-authored with Susan Zlotnick, Victorian Literature and Culture 51.4 (Winter 2023): 645-659.
  • “Leaving Victorian Studies Behind: The Case of Vassar College,” co-authored with Susan Zlotnick, Global Nineteenth-Century Studies 1.1 (Spring/Summer 2022): 53-62.
  • “Guest Editors’ Introduction,” with Kathleen Jones and Tamara Myers, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3 (Fall 2015): 339-340.
  • “‘The Dead and the Living;’: Child Death, the Public Mortuary Movement, and the Spaces of Grief and Selfhood in Victorian London,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.3, special issue guest edited by Kathleen Jones, Lydia Murdoch, and Tamara Myers (Fall 2015): 378-402.
  • “Anti-vaccination and the Politics of Grief for Children in Late-Victorian England,” in Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives, ed. Stephanie Olsen (London: Palgrave Macmillan History of Emotions Series, 2015), 242-260.
  • “Carrying the Pox: The Use of Children and Ideals of Childhood in Early British and Imperial Campaigns Against Smallpox,” The Journal of Social History 48.3 (Spring 2015): 511-535. Winner of the Society for the History of Children and Youth’s 2016 Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article (English).
  • Alice and the Question of Victorian Childhood,” in The Age of Alice: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Nonsense in Victorian England: An Exhibition Catalogue (Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College Libraries, 2015), 11-19.
  • “‘Suppressed Grief’: Mourning the Death of British Children and the Memory of the 1857 Indian Rebellion,” The Journal of British Studies, vol. 51.2 (April 2012): 364-392. Winner of the 2012 INCS (Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies) Essay Prize.

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

  • Winner of the Society for the History of Children and Youth’s Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article (English), 2016.
  • Howard Fellowship, The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, Brown University, 2014-2015, postponed 2015-2016.
  • Winner of the INCS (Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies) Essay Prize, 2012.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2002.
  • Walter L. Arnstein Dissertation Prize for Research in Victorian Studies, 1998.


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