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Green, Constance (Winsor) McLaughlin (1897–1975) - U.S. Urban History

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Constance Green, a pioneer in urban history, was born August 21, 1897, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Andrew Cunningham and Lois Thompson (Angell) McLaughlin. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was University of Michigan president James B. Angell; her father taught history at the university, organized the Bureau of Historical Research for the Carnegie Institute, and then became chairman of the history department of the University of Chicago. Constance attended the laboratory school at the university and spent one term at Fraulein von Heidenaber’s Hohere Tochter Schule in Munich, Germany, before entering the University of Chicago in 1914 and Smith College in 1916.

In 1919 Constance McLaughlin received an A.B. in history and taught English at the University of Chicago. In 1921 she married Donald Ross Green, a textile manufacturer, and taught at Smith College. In 1925 she received an M.A. in history from Mount Holyoke College. Her thesis, “The New England Confederation of 1643,” was published in 1927 in the first volume of Commonwealth History of Massachusetts , edited by Albert Bushnell Hart. From 1925 to 1932 she taught part time at Mount Holyoke. In 1937 she received a Ph.D. from Yale; her thesis, Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America , was published in 1939. It was recognized as one of the earliest scholarly works in urban history and received Yale’s Eggleston Prize in history.

From 1939 to 1946 Constance Green was director of research at the Smith College Council of Industrial Relations and during the war was official historian to the United States Army Ordnance Department in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1940 she contributed “The Value of Local History” to The Cultural Approach to History , edited by Caroline Ware, and in 1944 she contributed chapters to The Growth of American Economy , edited by Harold Williamson. In 1946 her husband died, and she moved to Washington, D.C., to become consulting historian for the American National Red Cross. She wrote The Role of Women as Production Workers in War Plants of the Connecticut Valley , which appeared as Volume 28 of Smith College Studies in History in 1946.

From 1948 to 1951 Green was chief historian for the Army Ordnance Corps and headed a team of researchers writing a volume on the technical services. Titled The Ordnance Department , it was part of the series The United States Army in World War II and was published in 1955. During this time, Green also published History of Naugatuck, Connecticut (1949).

In 1951 Green left the Pentagon and became a Commonwealth Fund Lecturer at University College, the University of London. In 1952 she became a historian at the research and development board, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Under a six-year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Green was named head of a Washington history project. While working on the project, she published Eli Whitney and the Birth of American Technology in 1956 and American Cities in the Growth of the Nation in 1957. Aided by a second grant from the Chapelbrook Foundation of Boston, she published the first volume of Washington: Village and Capital, 1800–1878 . The book won the 1963 Pulitzer Prize, twenty-seven years after her father had won the same award for The Constitutional History of the United States . The second volume, Washington, Capital City, 1879–1950 , was published in 1964. In 1965 she wrote The Rise of Urban America , and in 1967, The Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation’s Capital. The Church on Lafayette Square: A History of St. John’s Church, Washington, D.C. 1810–1970 (1970) was followed by Vanguard: A History in 1971, with Milton Lomask. Constance Green died December 5, 1975, of generalized arteriosclerosis in Annapolis, Maryland.

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