Profiles in giving back: Dr. Mary Beth Norton

Mary Beth Norton

When Dr. Mary Beth Norton applied for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in the fall of 1963, her advisor at the University of Michigan warned her that “girls” didn’t usually win such awards.

“To be awarded one was thrilling,” says Dr. Norton. The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship led to a five-year Harvard University fellowship where Dr. Norton completed her master’s degree in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1969. Her doctoral dissertation, The British-Americans, was published by Little, Brown and Company and won the 1970 Allan Nevins Prize for the best-written doctoral dissertation from the Society of American Historians.

Dr. Norton went on to edit, co-author, and write 10 books, including Founding Mothers and Fathers, which was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize. She is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University and has served on the National Council on the Humanities and as president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

In May, Dr. Norton presented her newest research findings at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Her current work focuses on the experiences of Americans just prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775.

“Winning the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship was the first important step on what has turned out to be a successful academic career,” says Dr. Norton. “In gratitude, I have regularly contributed to the Foundation ever since I started teaching.”

With the Holiday Season upon us and the end of the year in sight, consider a gift to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and help continue WW’s 70-year history of preparing the best and the brightest to become leaders.


This profile appeared in the fall 2015 issue of Fellowship, the newsletter of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. To see the full issue, click here. If you are interested in supporting the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, you may do so here.


Looking for Fellowship Applications?

Fellowship applications and opportunities can now be found on our new website, citizensandscholars.org.

Visit Now

Get More Info

To sign up for more information about a specific program, click here.

To receive the Woodrow Wilson newsletter, complete these fields:

If you want a hard copy, enter your preferred mailing address here: