“Marriage, Motherhood, Slaveholding: Isabella Graham in North America, 1767-1772”

OI Colloquium with Amanda Moniz

The future philanthropist Isabella Graham was a still-new wife and young mother when she arrived in North America in 1768 with her husband, a British Army physician. She would spend the next several years in Montreal and Fort Niagara, establishing a family, adjusting to unfamiliar environments, and becoming an enslaver. Exploring experiences that would shape her later charitable activities, this chapter is part of the first scholarly biography of the indebted immigrant widow who became one of the most well-known and influential female leaders in the early republic.

Amanda Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2008 and then held a Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. Her book, From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism, was awarded ARNOVA’S inaugural Peter Dobkin Hall History of Philanthropy Book Prize. She is currently working on a biography of Isabella Graham, the Scottish immigrant widow who transformed philanthropy in early-national New York City.


The OI’s Colloquium Series is an ongoing seminar for scholars to present their work in progress for graduate students and colleagues.  Advanced registration is required. All participants read the pre-circulated  paper and prepare to engage in generous and generative feedback.

When we meet in person we are limited by the size of the OI’s conference room; online we limit registration to 40 (a typical size for the colloquium). No recordings are made of the discussions and no tweeting or posting on other social media platforms during the event is permitted in order to encourage this intellectual community of trusted exchange.


Contact Beverly Smith for your copy.