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Lois Green Carr, Ph.D.


photo of Lois Carr Ph.D.

Dr. Lois Green Carr has made an indelible contribution to the State of Maryland in her professional and personal calling as Maryland’s preeminent Chesapeake historian. She has vastly increased our knowledge about early Maryland and its role in colonial American history. Through her work among records of our past, she has been humorously characterized as the woman who knows not only the names of everyone in seventeenth-century Maryland, but also their addresses and telephone numbers!

Dr. Carr’s work has been internationally recognized and drawn upon for further historical investigations for many years. Her professional life in Maryland began at the Maryland Hall of Records in Annapolis as a Junior Archivist in 1956. Still at the Archives more than 40 years later, as the historian for Historic St. Mary's City since 1967, Dr. Carr continues to work among the records of births and deaths, inventories, and court records to weave a picture of a lost world - Maryland at the beginning.

When awarding the first annual Eisenberg Prize for Excellence in the Humanities to Dr. Carr and Dr. George B. Undarhelyi in 1996, the Maryland Humanities Council wrote the following about Dr. Carr:

"Growing up in a household where her mother and grandfather were both historians, Dr. Lois Green Carr never doubted that she too would become a historian. Although her relatives chose the traditional course of university professorship, Dr. Carr devoted her energies to researching and writing about the colonial Chesapeake for all kinds of audiences from school children to professional colleagues. While others concentrated on writing cautiously guarded monographs to advance their professional standing, she chose to share her work with upcoming students and fellow historians, often co-authoring books and articles with her colleagues. Choosing Maryland as her home base after earning her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1968, she was one of the driving forces behind the St. Mary’s City Commission and is today internationally recognized as the leading social and economic historian of the Colonial Chesapeake."

Dr. Carr has an eagerness to share her knowledge that is uncommon in the field of history. Because of this, she has had a strong, positive influence on several generations of scholars. Dr. Carr has directed research on a diversity of subjects, ranging from the experiences of women in 17th Century Maryland and colonial inequality to the development of local government and religious toleration. Her efforts with land and court records provide the historical baseline for discovering the history of the State of Maryland’s first capital, St. Mary’s City, and of the people who lived there.

Dr. Carr is a recognized leader in the fields of social and economic history, and served as president of the Economic History Association in 1990-91. Through her pioneering work with probate inventories and other seldom used types of documents, she led the way in the field of New Social History.

Her book, Robert Cole’s World: Agriculture and Society in Early Maryland, co-authored with Russell R. Menard and Lorena S. Walsh, was reviewed as “…a stunning achievement…” by Carville Earle, and “The finest book ever written on agriculture in seventeenth-century America,” by Peter A. Coclanis. Robert Cole’s World was the winner of the Maryland Historical Society Book prize in 1993, and received the Alice Hanson Jones Prize, given by the Economic History Association for an outstanding book in North American Economic History published during 1991-1992. Readers of the William and Mary Quarterly voted the essay "The Planter’s Wife: The Experience of White Women in Seventeenth-Century Maryland" (1977), written with Lorena S. Walsh, as one of the 11 most influential articles published during the journal's first 50 years.

Lois Green Carr has earned the respect and admiration of a wide circle of colleagues. In 1992, a conference in her honor was held at the University of Maryland, College Park and resulted in a published "festschrift" of the papers presented on that occasion. Entitled, "Lois Green Carr: The Chesapeake and Beyond - A Celebration," the symposium was indeed a celebration of a uniquely gifted and generous historian. The program participants represented a veritable "Who’s Who" of early American historians and economists.

Dr. Carr is internationally recognized as the leading social and economic historian of the colonial Chesapeake region. According to Dr. John J. McCusker, “She has been the answer to many a question, the idea behind many a paper, the thoughtful critic for young and old, a particular stimulus to those of her own gender, and a role model for us all who seek to work in the history of early America.”

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