Judith Allen

Distinguished Professor and Walter Professor, Department of History

Senior Research Fellow, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender & Reproduction

Associate Editor, Journal of American History

Affiliate Professor, Department of Gender Studies

Adjunct Professor, Department of American Studies

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of English-speaking (Anglophone) cultures across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Transformations in gender and sexualities affecting attributes, behaviors, and beliefs, – and their decisive political and cultural consequences – have always piqued my curiosity, especially as manifested in histories of sexualities, crimes, population patterns, medicine, and law.  Such research has led me to focus on theorizing historical phenomena under-represented in extant evidence, passing “under the radar,” as it were, in turn leading to critical consideration of history’s disciplinary tenets and methods.  Otherwise, I am committed to the methodological and ethical aspiration toward “portraiture” in historians’ representations of the past – and not only because I am a recovering portraitist!  I serve as editorial board member and/or reader for several journals: Women’s History Review, Twentieth Century British History, The History of the Family, Men & Masculinities, Labour History, and History Australia.

  • My book, Sex & Secrets: Crimes involving Australian Women since 1880 explored of power negotiations between the sexes, examining century-long changes in such practices as prostitution, infanticide, abortion, violence, sexual assaults, and prohibited sexual encounters, through criminal court, coroners’ police, and prison records. 
  • Victorian and Edwardian woman suffragists’ concerns with sexual exploitation led to my book-length study of Rose Scott (1847-1925), whose suffragism, pacifism, and law reform work revealed not only intellectual commonalities within Western feminism, but also the wider transnational porosity of gender and sexuality discourses. 
  • My book on reform Darwinist Progressive Era public intellectual, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) – great-niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe and author of “The Yellow Wall-paper (1892) – placed the era’s feminism into the comparative context warranted by Gilman’s outsized influence on then-clamorous debates – from the evolution of biological sex differentiation to androcentrism in world religions.

Research Interests

  • History of sexuality, reproduction, birth control, demography and sexology/sex research
  • History of feminism and related sexual politics movements since the late eighteenth century
  • History of crimes and criminalization in Western and overseas settler societies since 1750
  • Comparative histories of Anglophone cultures


  • B.A. at First Class Hons,.Department of History, University of Sydney, 1978
  • Ph.D. at School of History, Philosophy & Political Studies, Macquarie University, 1985

Courses Taught

  • American Sexual Histories: From Salem Witch Craze to the Age of Viagra
  • British Sexual Histories: From Regency Scandals to the Sexual Revolution
  • Researching Gender & Sexualities in Modern History
  • Introduction to the Professional Study of History
  • Feminism and Anti-feminism before 1960
  • Birth Control in Modern History
  • Histories of Gender & Sexuality



  • The Feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Sexualities, Histories, Progressivism. [Women in Culture and Society series, edited by Catharine R. Stimpson].Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 467 pp.
  • Rose Scott: Vision and Revision in Feminism, 1880-1925. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994. 378 pp.
  • Sex and Secrets: Crimes Involving Australian Women since 1880. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1990. 336 pp.

Articles & Anthology Chapters

  • “Mid-Victorian Prostitution, the Contagious Diseases Acts (1864-1869), and the Early Repeal Campaign." In London Low Life: Street Culture, Social Reform and the Victorian Underworld. Edited by Judith A. Allen, Peter Bailey & Sean Sesgreen, 1-26. Marlborough: Adam Matthew Digital, 2010.
  • “Men Interminably in Crisis? Historians on Masculinity, Sexual Boundaries, and Manhood.” Radical History Review 82 (Winter 2002): 189-205.
  • "The Trials of Abortion in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Australia." Australian Cultural History 12 (May 1992): 87-99.
  • "Evidence and Silence: Feminism and the Limits of History.” In Feminist Challenges: Social and Political Theory, 173-89. Edited by Carole Pateman and Elizabeth Grosz. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1986.