Laurel Daen received her B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2005 and her M.A. from William & Mary in 2010. Her master’s thesis explored the life of Martha Ann Honeywell, a visual and performance artist with significant physical disabilities who traveled across North America and Europe in the early nineteenth century. Her dissertation, “The Constitution of Disability in the Early United States,” examines the creation of disability as a legal, medical, and cultural category in the post-Revolutionary period. Exploring topics such as Revolutionary War invalid pensions, insurance and mutual aid societies, material technologies for disability, public performers of disability, and emerging medical professionals, she reveals diverse and wide-ranging efforts to define, label, and limit disability in the new nation as well as the deep intersections of disability and ideologies of gender, class, and labor.
Laurel was awarded an American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for the 2014-2015 academic year. She has also received research fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the New-York Historical Society, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. In addition, she has presented her work at numerous conferences, including the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting, and the Society of Early Americanists Biennial Conference. In 2014, she was awarded the John E. Selby Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction from the Department of History at William & Mary. In 2010, her master’s thesis won the College’s Dean’s Prize for Student Scholarship on Women.