• Virginia Yans
  • Virginia Yans
  • Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor Emerita
  • Degree: M.A., Ph. D., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Rutgers : At Rutgers from 1978-2017


I am currently working on a biographical study of the anthropologist Margaret Mead. I have produced and written a 90 minute documentary film MARGARET MEAD: AN OBSERVER OBSERVED which aired nationally as a PBS Television Special and continues to be broadcast worldwide. I am actively involved in a number of public history projects including the Ellis Island National Museum, the Women's History Museum and Leadership Center planned for lower Manhanttan, and the South Street Seaport Museum. Newer interests include a history of collectors and collecting and a history of "single persons." Along with Professor Rudolph Bell, I co-directed two projects at the RCHA, one on "singleness" and another on the "gendering of children" during 2003-2005. Recent dissertations I have directed include several topics related to immigration including women's citizenship, Japanese picture brides, and immigrant language usage. One of my recent advisees, Carol Williams, won the OAH Scott-Lerner prize for best women's history dissertation for her work on photography, race, and gender in the northwest territory.



  • 512:278 Popular Music in American History
  • 506:212, 988:212 Women in Europe and the United States, 1780-present
  • History Seminar: Biography as History
  • Honors Seminar: Collectors and Things
  • Honors Seminar: Single Women,the Internet and Earlier Transformations in Information Technology


  • Gender and Technology in History
  • Race, Sexuality and The Other
  • Research Seminar in Women's History
  • Colloqium in Women's History
  • Anthropology and History
  • Research Seminar in American History
  • Labor History


  • Women on Their Own: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Being Single, co-edited with Rudolph M. Bell (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008, paperback 2010)
  • Ellis Island and the Peopling of America: The Official Guide (New Press, 1997, 1999)
  • Immigration Reconsidered: History, Sociology, Politics (Oxford University Press, 1990)
  • Family and Community: Italian Immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930 (Cornell University Press, 1977, 1984)


  • MARGARET MEAD: AN OBSERVER OBSERVED, a PBS television special, 1996


  • Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, film on Mead
  • National Science Foundation Fellowship, 1996
  • National Science Foundation 1996, 2000
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Grants 1983, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1994
  • Wenner Gren 1991
  • Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship 1976
  • Howard M. Marraro Prize, American Historical Association Prize 1977


  • American Historical Association
  • Organization of American Historians
  • Immigration History Society
  • Co-director RCHA (2003-2005)
  • Italian Studies Committee
  • University Honorary Degree Committee 2004
  • Graduate Vice Chair, History Department, 1992-1994
  • Chair, Women's Studies Program, 1978-81