Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Scholarly insights into Jefferson and other founding fathers

America’s founding fathers are not cold, distant figures to Dr. Jan Ellen Lewis. Nor does Lewis think their proper historical places are atop pedestals.

Lewis, one of the country’s foremost Jeffersonian scholars, is an expert in American colonial history, who has done extensive research and writing on colonial life and culture, especially family life.

Lewis, who has discussed the Founding Fathers on “The News Hour” with Jim Lehrer and on NPR, is as comfortable speaking about James Madison and Benjamin Franklin as she is about Thomas Jefferson. As she enlightens her students about the revered founders of the nation, she portrays them as very human men, with very human frailties.

Lewis, member and past chair of the New Jersey Historical Commission, is dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences-Newark, and a professor of history in the Federated History Department of Rutgers-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes in Newark, as well as doctoral courses on the New Brunswick campus.

Lewis is currently writing Making the American Nation, 1763-1830, which is the second volume in The Penguin History of the United States. She is co-editor of An Emotional History of the United States and Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory and Civic Culture, to which she also was a contributor. Lewis also is co-author of The Revolution of 1800:Democracy, Race and the New Republic, and the textbook, Making a Nation.

Lewis is sole author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Family and Values in Jefferson's Virginia.

She serves as chair of the American Historical Association's Committee on Women Historians, and serves on the advisory boards of the International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the American Historical Review.