Helen Horowitz is the Sydenham Clark Parsons professor of history, emerita. Her research ranges over a number of areas: urban life, cultural philanthropy, women, higher education, biography, sexuality, sexual representation, censorship, intimate life, understandings of health and illness, understanding of the landscape, and tourism.
Her book, Culture and the City examined the cultural institutions of 19th-century Chicago. A series of articles on zoological gardens looked at the relation between conceptions of wild animals and human society and their presentation. Alma Mater probed the ways in which founders of women's colleges expressed their hopes and fears about women as they offered them the liberal arts. Campus Life looked at the history of undergraduate cultures. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College and feminist, 1857-1935, appeared in 1994. Rereading Sex, published in 2002, explored sexual representations and the campaign to censor them that led to the landmark Comstock Law of 1873 that barred obscene materials, contraceptive information and devices, and abortion advertisements from the U.S. mails. The Flash Press, 2008, co-authored with Patrician Cohen and Timothy Gilfoyle, inquired into the sporting weeklies of the 1840s. Wild Unrest, 2010 focused on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the understanding of mental health and illness in the nineteenth century, and the writing of “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Currently she is writing about the invention of Provence for American travelers in A TASTE FOR PROVENCE.
In 2010 she was the Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library, and in 2000-01 was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute. She held the Mellon Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 1999-2000. In addition she has held two fellowships from the ACLS and the NEH. She was a fellow at the National Humanities Center under a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Re-reading Sex received the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
She lives with her spouse, the historian Daniel Horowitz, in Cambridge, Mass. They have two children - Ben, a computer scientist in the Bay Area and Sarah, an associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University.