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Elizabeth Dillenburg

Elizabeth Dillenburg

Elizabeth Dillenburg

Assistant Professor


(740) 755-7224

LeFevre Hall, Room 180
1179 University Drive
Newark, OH 43055

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Areas of Expertise

  • European History
  • Britain and the British Empire
  • Global History
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Childhood Studies


  • PhD History University of Minnesota
  • MA History Marquette University
  • BA History/Psychology Marquette University
Elizabeth Dillenburg is an assistant professor of history. She specializes in the history of modern Europe with a particular focus on the history of Britain and the British Empire and teaches courses on European and global history, gender history, the history of childhood, and the history of colonialism.  
Professor Dillenburg's book, Empire's daughters: Girlhood, whiteness and the colonial project, is forthcoming with Manchester University Press for its "Studies in Imperialism" series. Empire's daughters uncovers the ways in which girls and ideas of girlhood were central to the construction of colonial identities and societies and ideas of whiteness. Girls were heralded as empire builders and, especially during times of imperial uncertainty, were crucial to the creation and maintenance of class, gender, and racial hierarchies. Yet girls’ involvement in the empire was anything but straightforward. They not only supported—directly and indirectly—racialized systems of colonial power but also resisted them. To explore these complexities of girls’ participation in the empire, Empire’s daughters examines the Girls’ Friendly Society, an organization that emerged in late Victorian Britain and developed into a global society with branches throughout the empire. The book charts the society’s origins and growth and its later decline in the interwar era. It also explores how, through its multifaceted imperial education and emigration programs, the society constructed ideas of girlhood, race, and empire that then circulated globally. The book employs a multi-sited framework that examines girlhood in different areas of the empire, including Britain, India, South Africa, and Australia, and utilizes a range of sources, including correspondences, scrapbooks, photographs, and newsletters, to provide new insights into girls’ experiences of and engagement with colonialism. Through this study of the Girls’ Friendly Society, Empire’s daughters explores the micropolitics of colonialism and whiteness and argues that understandings of colonialism remain incomplete without considerations of girls and girlhood.
Her other publications include "Looking Back and Looking Forward: Minnesota History's Coverage of Woman Suffrage and Women's Rights," Minnesota History 67, no. 3 (Fall 2020)L 94-97; “Girl Empire Builders: Girls’ Domestic and Cultural Labor and the Constructions of Girlhoods,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 12, no. 3 (Fall 2019): 393-412; “Domestic Servant Debates and the Fault Lines of Empire in Early Twentieth-Century South Africa and New Zealand,” in New Perspectives on the History of Gender and Empire, eds. Ulrike Lindner and Dörte Lerp (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 179-207; “‘The Opportunity for Empire Building’: The Girls’ Friendly Society, Child Emigration, and Domestic Service in the British Empire,” in International Migrations in the Victorian Era, ed. Marie Ruiz (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 456-478; and, “The Cricket Pitch as a Battlefield: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Contexts of the 1960s Protests against Apartheid Cricket,” OFO: Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2, no. 1 (June 2012): 1-24. She also co-edited a volume on Print Culture at the Crossroads: The Book and Central Europe (Brill, 2021).  

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