Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Lydia Murdoch Professor and Chair of History

Lydia Murdoch is a historian of modern Britain and the British Empire. Originally from Kents Store, Virginia, she earned her BA in History from Vassar College (1992) and her MA and PhD in British History and Victorian Studies from Indiana University (2000). Her primary research interests include the social and cultural history of nineteenth-century Britain, childhood, gender, and urban life.

  • AB, Vassar College; MA, PhD, Indiana University
  • At Vassar since 2000


Research and Academic Interests

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


  • HIST/URBS/VICT 254. Victorian Britain
  • HIST 300. Thesis Preparation: Sources, Methods, and Interpretations

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

  • “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.


Download images for non-commercial use, photo credit required.

Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College

Professor Murdoch is author of Daily Life of Victorian Women (2014); Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London (2006); and is currently writing a book about the public forms of grief and political discourses surrounding the death of children in British and imperial contexts. In addition to introductory Women’s Studies and British history courses, Professor Murdoch teaches classes on Victorian Britain, the British Empire, and the history of childhood in modern Britain. She is chair of the History Department, a former director of the Women’s Studies and Victorian Studies programs, and a participating faculty in Urban Studies.