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Laurel Daen

NEH Long-term Fellow, Massachusetts Historical Society

Advisor: Karin Wulf
Year Graduated: 2016
Dissertation Title: The Constitution of Disability in the Early United States


Laurel Daen is a 2017-2018 NEH long-term fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Her research focuses on disability, sickness, medicine, and health, broadly understood, in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her dissertation, “The Constitution of Disability in the Early United States” (William & Mary 2016), explored how disability emerged in the Early Republic as a meaningful bureaucratic, legal, institutional, and cultural category, rooted in ideas about work, social worth, and economic independence and increasingly determined by the expert discourse of medicine. The project won the Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities from William & Mary in 2017.

Laurel’s work has appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature, and Rethinking Modern Prostheses in Anglo-American Commodity Cultures, 1820-1939. She has received fellowships, including long-term awards from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and William & Mary’s Office of the Provost. In 2014, Laurel won the John E. Selby Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction from William & Mary. From 2016-2017, she served as the Lapidus Initiative Communications Coordinator at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.