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University of Massachusetts Amherst professor and historian Dr. Marla Miller
Dr. Marla R. Miller

The life of Elizabeth Griscom, who you probably know better by the name of Betsy Ross, is one of American legend. However, as they tend to go, legends are often shrouded in myth, hyperbole, exaggeration, and at times untruths. Ross's story is no different. So who really was Betsy Ross? What is the lasting legacy of her life and her descendants? What does her story mean to Americans today?

Dr. Marla R. Miller, Director of the Public History Program at University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America, joined the latest episode of the Museum's AmRev360 series, hosted by President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, to discuss the myths surrounding Ross's life, Ross's family history, Ross's third husband John Claypoole's sea chest on display at the Museum, signs and symbols in flagmaking, and more.

The director of the public history program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Marla R. Miller researches and writes about women and work in early America. She is the author of The Needle's Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution (2006), a study of the New England clothing trades before industrialization. Her Betsy Ross and the Making of America (2010), the first scholarly biography of the much-misunderstood craftswoman, was a finalist for the Cundill Prize in History and was named as one of the best nonfiction books of the year by the Washington Post. Miller's latest book is Entangled Lives: Labor, Livelihood, and Landscapes of Change in Rural Massachusetts (2019). Follow her on Twitter @MarlaAtLarge.

AmRev360 features lively conversations on the American Revolution from all angles between Stephenson and a broad slate of dynamic guests, including authors, actors, community leaders, and more. 

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Betsy Ross by Marla R. Miller

Betsy Ross

Read an excerpt from Marla Miller who breaks through the myths and weaves Betsy Ross's life story with that of the nation's.
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Image 090220 Amrev360 Titleslide


Watch lively conversations on the American Revolution from all angles, hosted by Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson and featuring a broad slate of dynamic guests, on our AmRev360 web series.
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Image 121120 Amrev360 Virginia Whelan Conserving Tent

AmRev360: Conservation and Symbols of Revolutionary Flags with Textile Conservator Virginia Whelan

Textile conservator Virginia Whelan discusses materials and symbolism found in flags from the Revolutionary era and the delicate work of conserving those flags.
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