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About the Author

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Michelle Marchetti Coughlin is a historian and author whose primary focus has been the recovery of information about early American women, who continue to be underrepresented in the telling of America's story. Michelle's first book, One Colonial Woman's World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), is a biography of the author of what may be the earliest surviving diary by an American woman. It received an honorable mention for the Western Association of Women Historians 2014 Kanner Prize. Her most recent book, Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life (Pilgrim Hall Museum, 2019), reconstructs the life of one of Plymouth Colony's most influential women through material culture. Michelle is currently at work on a book on the wives of America's colonial governors ("The First First Ladies") along with their counterparts among female Native tribal leaders and the wives of America's early peer-elected Black governors. 


Michelle has lectured widely on her books and research, and as a board member of the Abigail Adams Birthplace (2013-2024) she created a broad range of educational programming focused on women's history and African-American history. She has served as a Mass Humanities Scholar in Residence; a guest curator for Pilgrim Hall Museum's 2019-2021 exhibit, pathFOUNDERS: Women of Plymouth; and a consultant working with historic sites seeking to integrate women's history into their interpretation. Most recently, she researched the Revolutionary War experiences of Mary Cushing Lincoln (1734-1816), wife of Major General Benjamin Lincoln, for the Hingham, Mass. Historical Society, in preparation of their opening of the Lincoln House Museum.

In May 2022 Michelle was honored to receive a "Speak for Thyself" Award from the Alden House Historic Site honoring women who have promoted "extraordinary outcomes by speaking on behalf of themselves and others." In December 2023 she was elected a Trustee of Pilgrim Hall Museum, the nation’s oldest continuously operating public museum, whose mission is to "foster thoughtful understandings of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the Wampanoag people, and the complex evolution of Plymouth as an impactful narrative of America's history." Pilgrim Hall is committed to "telling this story with historical accuracy, inclusion, and recognition for histories that traditionally have been submerged, silenced, or erased."

Michelle holds graduate degrees in history (Tufts University, where she worked with John Brooke) and English and American Literature (Harvard University Extension School, where she worked with Sacvan Bercovitch), as well as a graduate-level certificate in museum studies. For many years she served as an editor, including with Tufts University.


Michelle may be contacted at:

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