Deborah Leigh Simonton

FRHistS, BA, MA, PhD History

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Deborah Leigh Simonton, BA, MA, PhD, FRHistS e mail:
Associate Professor of British History Emerita, University of Southern Denmark

Current Research interests and activities
Leader, Research Network, Gender and the European Town, Early Modern to Modern, Gained c1mill DKK from the Danish Research Council, and additional grants of 162,000DKK toward conference support.
This is a large research network of c. 30 academics representing 13 countries, which examines three broad themes in light of both gender and urbanisation: Space and Place; Economy; and Civic Identity. It explores the influence of gender on the shape of towns, the gendering of urban spaces and gender as a force for urban change. This is an important project that aims to challenge current perceptions of urban development and to nuance the historiography with research from Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

My research is situated in this project and involves investigation into four case studies, based on towns in France, Denmark, Scotland and England, which demonstrate the significance of the relationship between the development of European towns over time and the inflection of that development when viewed through the lens of gender.

Education and Qualifications
Ph.D. (7 December 1988) University of Essex; ‘The Education and Training of Eighteenth-Century English Girls, with special reference to the working classes.’
M.A. (16 September 1971) Arizona State University. British and European History; Dissertation: ‘Britain’s New Universities: Twenty Years of Growth, 1945-1965.’
B.A. with Distinction (2 June 1970) Arizona State University, History major, Politics minor

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Utah State University, January to end June, 2016
Visiting Professor, University of Turku, Finland, semester commencing 10 January 2014 until 31 July 2018
Holder of Strathmartine Research Grant, Strathmartine Trust, St Andrews Scotland, October to end December, 2014
Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK), December 2010,
Elected to Phi Alpha Theta, National Honor Society in History, March 1969
Elected to Alpha Lambda Delta, National Women’s Scholastic Honor Society, Spring 1967


Sept. 2004 - Feb. 2016 Associate Professor of British History, University of Southern Denmark
Nov. 2010 Visiting Lecturer, University of Turku, Finland and for Medieval and Early Modern History Association.
Mar. 2009 Visiting Lecturer, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Feb. 2009 Visiting Lecturer, University of Turku, Finland
Nov. 2007 Visiting Lecturer, Bath Spa University, UK
April 2007 Visiting Lecturer, University of Manchester, UK
Dec. 2005 Visiting Lecturer, University of Flensburg, Germany

1991-2004 Honorary Senior Lecturer in History and Women’s Studies, University of Aberdeen, Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator. 4 discretionary Merit Awards, and promoted in 1995
Degree Co-ordinator: MAs in European Cultural Studies, Scottish Cultural Studies
Member of Strategy Policy Group; Team Leader, Innovation and Development
Flexible Learning Co-ordinator.
Aug. 2002 to Dec. 2004 Aberdeen Co-ordinator, EU Grundtvig project @duline
Aug. 1999 to Aug. 2002 Aberdeen Co-ordinator, EU Socrates/Grundtvig project.
Nov. 2001 Visiting Lecturer, Helsingfors Arbis, Helsinki, Finland.
Sept. 1995 - June 2002 Co-ordinator, Academic Skills. Responsible directly to Vice-Principals.

1985-1990 Lecturer in History, Hillcroft College, Surbiton, Surrey
Curriculum Co-ordinator and deputised for Principal.
1982-85 History Lecturer, Sutton Coldfield College of Further Education, half-time.
1980-82 Lecturer in Sociology, Crawley College of Technology, part-time.
1975-79 Head of Political and Social Studies, Whitefield School, London Borough of Barnet.
1972-75 Library Assistant, US Government Documents Service, Arizona State University.
1971-72 History Lecturer, part-time, Phoenix College, Phoenix, Arizona. (1.5 years)
1970-72 Teaching Assistant, Department of History, Arizona State University.

Professional Activities
Member of Committee, Danish Centre for Urban History
Editorial Advisory Board, Cultural History, Journal for the International Society of Cultural History
Expert reviewer for Swedish Academy, Linnaeus grants (large project grants)
External Assessor for History Appointments, University of Copenhagen, 2008, 2012
Internal Examiner for History in English Studies, University of Southern Denmark, since 2004
External Examiner for History, Bath Spa University, 2003-2007
Affiliated to Women’s History Network in Denmark, since 2004
Women’s History Scotland Convenor (1998-2004) and Committee member, 1998-present; currently Co-ordinator and judge for the Leah Leneman Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
Women’s History Network (UK) Steering Committee, 1998-2003, currently member of Network
Research Associate, Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, Aberdeen University, to 2004
Research Associate, Centre for Early Modern History, Aberdeen University, to 2004
Faculty Planning Committee, Social Sciences and Law, Aberdeen, 2001 to 2002
Convenor, Working Party on Study Skills, Aberdeen, 1994-2000
Convenor of the Women’s Centenary Bursary and Projects, 1994 to 2004
Aberdeen University Women’s Centenary Co-ordinating Committee, 1993-94

Invited International Presentations, not otherwise published
‘”Trembling for Success…”, Women, Enlightenment and Performance’, Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, London, Southbank Centre, Public Study Day, 2 December 2012.
Sue Innes Memorial Lecture: 'Milliners, modistes and marchandes de modes: Innovation, creativity and skill in the workplace', Women’s History Scotland, Dundee, 8 October 2011.
‘They may depend on being well and readily served’: Lives in business in eighteenth-century Aberdeen, Department of Cultural History, University of Turku, 18 November 2010.
'What difference does a man make? Widows, business and the culture of the eighteenth-century town', Gender and Loss: Experiencing Widowhood in Britain and Continental Europe, c.1400–1900, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK, 27th – 28th August, 2009
‘Gender and the European Town’, also ‘Commentator’ for Workshop on Gender, Economy, Social Justice and Care – From Theory to Practice, Umeå, Sweden, 15-16 June 2009
‘Gendering our history—thoughts from a small island’, Nordic Women and Gender History Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland, 11-13 August 2008.
‘Commentator’, Session: Technology, Gender and the Division of Labour, XIV International Economic History Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 21 to 25 August 2006.
‘Women and the Workplace: Comparative Reflections on Identity and Independence,’ The Sorbonne, Paris, 17-18 March 2000.
‘Women’s Work in the Eighteenth Century: A Golden Age?’ Workshop of the Economic History Society, Institute of Historical Research, London, 1 February 1989.

International Conference Organisation
Panels Urban HIstory Conferences, 2010 Ghent, 2012 Prague, 2016 Helsinki
Gender in the European Town: medieval to Modern, 22-25 May 2013, University of Southern Denmark, Odense.
Place, Space and Environment: Historical Approaches, 6 March 2010, Kolding, University of Southern Denmark
Gender and the European Town, two linked colloquia, University of Turku, April 2008 and Kolding, Denmark, June, 2009, co-organised with Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen, University of Turku.
Challenging the Canon, Women’s Week International Conference, University of Southern Denmark, March 2005, Kolding, Denmark
Making Cloth(es): Women, Dress and Textiles, Scottish Women’s History Network Conference, 23 October 2004, Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Drama, Glasgow, Co-organiser.
Women’s History Network, 12th Annual Conference, University of Aberdeen, 12-14 September 2003.
British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, Annual Conference, Aberdeen, August 2000, Co-organiser.
Childhood, Poverty and Social Action, Group for Research in the Eighteenth Century, Aberdeen, 18 September 1997, Co-organiser.
Mackie International Conference, Women’s History: Scottish and International Perspectives, University of Aberdeen, June 1996, Co-organiser.
Women and Higher Education, Women’s International Centenary Conference, University of Aberdeen, 1993-94, Co-organiser.

Selected Publications (all listed have been peer reviewed)

With Hannu Salmi, eds, Catastrophe, Gender and Urban Experience in Europe, 1648-1920, Routledge 2017.
‘Surviving the Siege: Commerce, Gender and Religion in La Rochelle before the Revolution’, in Catastrophe, Gender and Urban Experience in Europe, 1648-1920, Deborah Simonton and Hannu Salmi, eds, Routledge 2017.
‘‘Sister to the tailor’: Guilds, gender and the needle trades in eighteenth-century Europe’, Early Professional Women in Northern Europe, c. 1650 to the 1850s, Editors Johanna Ilmakunnas, Marjatta Rahikainen and Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing/Routledge, 2017.
‘“For the gentlemen of the town to walk on by way of exchange”: Gender, Space and Commerce in the Eighteenth-Century Town’, in Elaine Chalus and Marjo Kaartinen, eds, Conceived, Constructed & Contested Spaces: Gender in the European Town, c.1500–1914, Routledge, 2017
‘Toleration, Liberty and Privileges: gender and commerce in eighteenth-century European towns’, in Routledge History Handbook of Gender and the Urban Experience, Ch 1.2, Routledge, 2017.
Routledge History Handbook of Gender and the Urban Experience, general editor, Routledge, 2017.
Gender in the European Town, Routledge, 2018.
‘All the days of their lives’: the business of life’, Gender in Business Families, eds Jarna Heinonen and Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen, 2017
With Anne Montenach, eds, A Cultural History of Work, 6 volumes, Bloomsbury, 2017

Luxury and Gender in the Modern Urban Economy: A European Perspective, c.1700–1914, with Anne Montenach and Marjo Kaartinen, eds, Routledge, 2014.
Women in European Culture and Society, A Sourcebook. Routledge, 2013. ISBN 978-0-415-68440-8
Women in Eighteenth-century Scotland, Ashgate, 2013, editor with Katie Barclay. ISBN 978-1-4094-5046-7.
Female Agency in the Urban Economy, Gender in European Towns, 1640-1830, editor with Anne Montenach. Routledge, 2013. ISBN 9780415537292
Women in European Culture and Society, Gender, Skill and Identity from 1700. Routledge, 2011 (ISBN 0-415-21307-X).
Routledge History of Women in Modern Europe, 1700 to the present, editor. London: Routledge, 2006 (ISBN 0-415-30103-3), 397pp. (paperback edition, with revisions 2007).
Gender and Scottish History, 1700 to the present, editor with Lynn Abrams, Eleanor Gordon and Eileen Yeo. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006 (ISBN 0-7486-1760-4), 280pp.
Gendering Scottish History: An International Perspective, editor with Terry Brotherstone and Oonagh Walsh. Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1999, (ISBN 1-873448-16-3), 280pp.
A History of European Women’s Work, 1700 to the present. London: Routledge, 1998 (ISBN 0-415-05532-6), 337pp.
Women and Higher Education, Past, Present and Future, editor with Mary R. Masson. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1996 (ISBN 1-85752-260-5), 344pp.

Journal Articles
‘Threading the Needle, Pulling the Press: Gender, Skill and the tools of the trade in Eighteenth-century European Towns’, Cultural History, 1, 2 (2012): 180–204.
‘Review Essay: Identity, Labor and Welfare: the worlds of work and family,’ Journal of Women’s History (US), 23, No. 4 (Winter 2011), 198-209.
‘”Birds of Passage” or “Career” Women? —Thoughts on the lifecycle of the European Servant,’ Women’s History Review, Vol. 20, 2 (Spring 2011), 207-25.
‘”Even some Ladies Talk with Facility about Oxygen”, Education for Women in Britain, 1700-1850”, Women’s History Magazine, Autumn 2007, pp. 11-15. ISSN 1476-6760.
‘Women Workers, Working Women’, pp. 134-176 in Simonton, Routledge History of Women in Modern Europe, 1700 to the present, editor. (Routledge, 2006)
‘Earning and Learning: Girlhood in Pre-Industrial Europe,’ Women’s History Review, 13, 3, (2004), pp. 363-86. ISSN 0961-2025
‘Gender, Identity and Independence: Eighteenth-Century Women in the Commercial World,’ Women’s History Magazine, 42 (Autumn 2002), pp. 2-8. ISSN 1476-6760
‘Nursing History as Women’s History,’ International History of Nursing Journal, 6, 1 (2001) pp. 35-47. ISSN: 1360-1105
‘Schooling the Poor: Gender and Class in Eighteenth-century England,’ British Journal for Eighteenth-century Studies, Vol. 23, Autumn, 2000, pp. 183-202. ISSN 1754-0194

‘”…to merit the countenance of the Magistrates”: Gender and civic identity in eighteenth-century Aberdeen’, in Nina Koefoed, Åsa Karlsson-Sjögren and Krista Cowman, eds, Gender in Urban Europe: Sites of Political Activity and Citizenship 1750-1900, Routledge, 2014
‘Milliners and Marchandes de Modes: Gender, Skill and Creativity in the workplace’, in Simonton, Kaartinen and Montenach, eds, Luxury and Gender, c. 1700-1914, Routledge 2014.
‘Negotiating the Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Town: Female Entrepreneurs Claim their Place’, pp. 211-232 in Barclay and Simonton, eds, Women in Eighteenth-century Scotland. Ashgate, 2013.
‘Widows and Wenches, Single Women in Eighteenth-Century Urban Economies’, pp. 138-70 in Simonton and Montenach, Female Agency in the Urban Economy, Gender in European Towns, 1640-1830. Routledge 2013.
‘Education and Work’, Chapter 6 in Liz Conor, ed., Vol. 6 A Cultural History Of Women in the Modern Age, of A Cultural History of Women, Berg Publishers, 2013. 119-44. ISBN 9781847884756
Children and the Economy,’ In James Marten and Elizabeth Foyster, eds, Vol. 4. A Cultural History of Childhood and the Family in the Age of Enlightenment, (1650-1800) of A Cultural History of Childhood and the Family, 6 vols. Berg Publishers, 2010 (ISBN 978-1-84788-797-9), pp. 49-68.
‘Gender’ in Peter Wilson, ed. Blackwell Companion to Eighteenth-century Europe, Oxford: Blackwells Publishers, 2008, pbk 2014. pp.27-46. ISBN 978-1-4051-3947-2
‘Work, Trade and Commerce’, pp. 199-234 in Gender and Scottish History, 1700 to the present, Abrams, Gordon, Simonton and Yeo. (Edinburgh University Press, 2006).
‘Women and Education,’ in Elaine Chalus and Hannah Barker, eds, Women’s History, 1700-1850. London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 33-56. ISBN 0-415-29177-1
‘Claiming their Place in the Corporate Community: Women’s Identity in Eighteenth-century Towns,’ in Isabelle Baudino, Jacques Carré, Cecile Révauger, eds, The Invisible Woman, Aspects of Women’s Work in Eighteenth-century Britain. London: Ashgate, 2005, pp. 101-116. ISBN 0-7546-3572-4
‘Bringing up girls: work in pre-industrial Europe,’ in Christina Benninghaus, Mary Jo Maynes and Brigitte Söland, eds, Secret Gardens, Satanic Mills: Placing Girls in Modern European History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004, pp. 23-37. ISBN 0-253-21710-5
‘A Marriage of Convenience? A View of Economic History and its Partners’, in P. Hudson ed., Living Economic and Social History (75th Anniversary Commemorative Essays). Glasgow: Economic History Society, 2001 (ISBN 0-9540216-0-6).
‘Gendering Work: Reflections on home, skill and status in Europe, 1750-1820,’ pp. 63-83 in Gendering Scottish History: An International Perspective, editor with Brotherstone, Simonton and Walsh, eds. (Cruithne, 1999)
‘Gendering labour in eighteenth-century towns,’ in Margaret Walsh, ed., Working out Gender, Society for the Study of Labour History. London: Ashgate Press, 1999, pp. 29-47. (ISBN 0-7546-0058-0).
‘Women and the [Scottish] Community: a challenge to education’, pp. 97-108 in Masson and Simonton, eds, Women and Higher Education, Past, Present and Future, (Aberdeen University Press, 1996).
‘Apprenticeship: Training and Gender in Eighteenth-century England’ in Maxine Berg, ed. Markets and Manufactures in Early Industrial Europe. London: Routledge, 1991, reissued in Routledge Revivals, 2013, pp. 227-58 (ISBN 0-415-03720-4).
‘The Role of Apprenticeship in the Education of Women, 1750-1800,’ in ESRC Workshops on Protoindustrial Communities, Warwick Working Papers. Coventry: University of Warwick, Centre for the Study of Social History, 1987, pp. 64-84.

Recent Reviews
Review of Julie De Groot, Isabelle Devos and Ariadne Schmidt (eds), Single Life and the City 1200-1900 (2015), (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke). Social History, Spring 2016.
Review of Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France. By Clare Haru Crowston. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. Business History Review, Spring 2016.

Biographical Dictionaries
‘Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Bury’, ‘Lady Mary Coke’, ‘Annie Hastie’, ‘Anne Hunter’, ‘Mrs. McGhie’, ‘Margaret Morice’, ‘Lucky Wood’, Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, Elizabeth Ewan, Sue Innes, Siân Reynolds, Rose Pipes, eds. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006, pp.55-6, 78-9, 162, 174, 224, 272, 379. ISBN 0-7486 1713 2.
‘Lady Charlotte Bury, 1775-1861,’ ‘Anne Home Hunter, 1742-1821,’ ‘Charlotte Palmer, 1780-1800,’ ‘Priscilla Poynton Pickering, 1750-1801,’ in Janet Todd, ed. A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers, 1660-1800. Totowa, N.J.: Rowan and Allenheld, 1984 (ISBN 0-8476-7125-9), pp. 69-70, 169-70, 239-40, 260.

Lead Editor, Women’s History Magazine, ISSN 1476-6760, launched 15 February 2002—January 2012.


Research areas

Dr Simonton's main research interests are early modern and modern European urban and women’s history, particularly issues of work, education and childhood in the eighteenth century and the development of women’s cultural identity. She is currently working ona major study of gender in European towns. This research project is situated at the convergence of three specific historiographies. The first is ‘traditional’ urban history, which often studies towns from institutional, geographic and macro-economic viewpoints. The second is research on politeness and sociability in the 18th century. The third draws on a group of scholars, spearheaded by Dr Simonton, which aims to insert gender formation into our understanding of European towns. This latter group is working on the dynamics of political culture, the urban economy and ideological and physical spaces of the town. Funded by the Danish Research Council, this network 'Gender in the European Town', has published several co-authored and edited volumes. More information on the network is elsewhere on this site.


Research information


Leader, Research Network, Gender and the European Town, Early Modern to Modern, involving c25 partners from across Europe and the USA. Gained c1mill DKK for network operations from the Danish Research Council for the period 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2012.

This is a new large research network, within which my current research is situated. The project focuses on examining three broad themes in light of both gender and urbanisation: Space and Place; Economy; and Civic Identity. It is exploring the influence of gender on the shape of towns, the gendering of urban spaces and gender as a force for urban change. This approach enables us to ask questions that urban history has tended not to ask, since in many respects the gendered character of towns has not been central to traditional urban history. This is an important project with the potential to challenge current perceptions of urban development and to nuance the historiography with research developed in the Nordic region and across the continent. It is broadening our idea about the development and legacy of towns in this period and contributes to a wider understanding of the spaces, places and dynamics that shape our lives today.


Education/Academic qualification

History, PhD, University of Essex

Award Date: 7. Dec 1988

History, Master of Arts, Arizona State University

Award Date: 15. Sep 1971

History, Bachelor of Arts, Arizona State University

Award Date: 1. Jul 1970

External positions

Distinguished VIsiting Professor, Utah State University

1. Jan 201630. Jun 2016

Visiting Professor, University of Turku

15. Jan 2014 → …


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