Location: Bowdoin / Sarah F. McMahon


Sarah F. McMahon

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information


Hubbard Hall - 11

Teaching this semester

HIST 2128 / GSWS 2248. Family and Community in American History, 1600–1900

Sarah McMahon
Examines the social, economic, and cultural history of American families from 1600 to 1900, and the changing relationship between families and their kinship networks, communities, and the larger society. Topics include gender relationships; racial, ethnic, cultural, and class variations in family and community ideals, structures, and functions; the purpose and expectations of marriage; philosophies of child-rearing; organization of work and leisure time; and the effects of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and social and geographic mobility on patterns of family life and community organization. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

HIST 1014. Utopia: Intentional Communities in America, 1630-1997

Sarah McMahon
An examination of the evolution of utopian visions and utopian experiments that begins in 1630 with John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill,” explores the proliferation of both religious and secular communal ventures between 1780 and 1920, and concludes with an examination of twentieth-century counterculture communes, intentional communities, and dystopian separatists. Readings include primary source accounts by members (letters, diaries, essays, etc.), community histories and apostate exposés, utopian fiction, and scholarly historical analyses. Discussions and essays focus on teaching students how to subject primary and secondary source materials to critical analysis. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

Sarah McMahon


A.B. Wellesley College
Ph.D. Brandeis University

Office Hours

Course Syllabi, Reading Guides, and Resources

  Teaching Oral Communication:
  History 12, Utopia: Intentional Communities
  in America, 1630-1977

  Consultants for Teaching:
  Faculty Members Develop Program of Teaching Support

History 247 Service Learning Project

  Maine Matters:  Exploring Local, Mid-Coast, and Maine History

  The Home Front:
   Bowdoin and Brunswick Before the War

Sarah McMahon offers survey courses on colonial and early national US social history and thematic courses—both surveys and seminars—on family and community, women, utopia, and Maine environmental history.  Her articles on the history of diet and the culture of food in New England and the Midwest have been published in Historical Methods, William and Mary Quarterly, Agricultural History, and in essay collections on early American technology and Midwestern women.  Her current research focuses on change and continuity (ecological, economic, social, and cultural) in Harpswell, a mid-coast Maine farming, fishing, and maritime community, and situates the community in its local, regional, and national context, 1840-1900.

Hubbard Hall

  Hubbard Library—Bowdoin College, Brunswick. Me.  (c. 1907)

Bowdoin 1907

  Bowdoin College  (1907)