Pauline Maier is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1968. Her book publications include From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776 (1972), The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (1980), and The American People: A History (1986), a textbook for junior-high-school students. In 1997 Alfred A. Knopf published her American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, which appeared as a Vintage paperback the next year. That book examines the development of independence, the drafting and editing of the Declaration of Independence, and the document's transformation from a revolutionary manifesto into a statement of principles for the post-revolutionary United States. The book also examines some ninety state and local "declarations of independence" written between April and July 1776 that had been generally forgotten. American Scripture was on the New York Times Book Review editors "Choice" list of the best 11 books of 1997 and a finalist in General Nonfiction for the National Book Critics' Circle Award. In 1998 she received MIT's Killian Award, given annually to one senior faculty member for outstanding achievement.
Prof. Maier wrote the first eight chapters of Inventing America (W.W. Norton and Co.; 2002, 2nd ed. 2006), a college textbook distinguished by its consideration of science and technology within the larger history of the United States. Subsequent chapters were written by MIT Professor Merritt Roe Smith, Professor Alex Keyssar of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Yale's Professor Daniel Kevles.
Prof. Maier is also known for an article on "Popular Uprisings in Eighteenth-Century America," which first appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly (WMQ) for 1970, won the Douglass Adair Award for the best article published in that journal over an eight-year period, and was reprinted in In Search of Early America: The William and Mary Quarterly, 1943-1993 (1993), a collection of the eleven most influential articles published in the WMQ over the previous half century, and for "The Revolutionary Origins of the American Corporation," an article published in the WMQ during 1993.
Her most recent book, Ratification. The People Debate the Constitution. 1787-1788 (Simon and Schuster, 2010; pb. 2011) is the first comprehensive narrative history of the ratification of the US federal Constitution. The Wall Street Journal listed it among the top ten books of the year, the New York Times Book Review among 100 "notable" books of 2010, and Esquire magazine included it among the best ten books of 2011. It won the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award for "the best, newly published work on the American Revolutionary period, combining original scholarship, insight and good writing, published in the preceding year" (shared with Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life); the George Washington Book Prize, for “the best book on America's founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history”; the Ruth Ratner Miller Award for “excellence in American History”; the Henry Paolucci/Walter Bagehot Book Award of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the American Historical Society’s Littleton-Griswold Book Prize for a book on American law and society.
It was also a finalist for the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. At MIT she teaches courses on American History to 1865, the American Revolution, American Classics (in which students read "classic" primary documents in American History), and (with Prof. Robert M. Fogelson) Riots, Strikes, and Conspiracies in American History.