Steven Mintz

Executive Director, Institute for Transformational Learning

University of Texas System


Professor of History

University of Texas at Austin


Linked In

Inside Higher Ed

Psychology Today


A pioneer in the application of new technologies to teaching and research, Steven Mintz is Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning, which is responsible for making a quality education more affordable, accessible, and successful through the innovative use of new technologies. He is also Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.

A former fellow at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, he is past president of the Society for the History of Children and Youth and H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online and chaired the Council on Contemporary Families, which seeks to enhance the national conversation on today’s diverse families, their challenges, and their needs. He has also been elected into the Society of American Historians, whose members are selected based on their commitment to literary distinction in the writing of history.


Previously the director of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Center and a professor of history there, he chaired the juries for the Bancroft and Frederick Douglass book prizes, and created the Digital History website. His books include Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood, Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life, Moralists & Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers, and The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood.





The Prime of Life
A History of Modern Adulthood
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press


In the 1950s, most men had met all of society’s markers for adulthood by their mid-20s—and most women would never fully meet them, whatever their age. In this engagingly written and thought-provoking book, Mintz explores the fascinating history of American definitions of adulthood and shows how new economic, cultural, and gender relationships have expanded and complicated those definitions in recent years.
Stephanie Coontz, author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s

The Prime of Life is a compelling story of just how much the meaning and process of attaining adulthood has changed throughout the history of the United States. Mintz does a masterful job of narration and interpretation, reminding readers why he is the preeminent historian of the life course.
Frank F. Furstenberg, author of Destinies of the Disadvantaged: The Politics of Teenage Childbearing

Adulthood today is undergoing profound transformations. Men and women wait until their thirties to marry, have children, and establish full-time careers, occupying a prolonged period in which they are no longer adolescents but still lack the traditional emblems of adult identity. People at midlife struggle to sustain relationships with friends and partners, to find employment and fulfilling careers, to raise their children successfully, and to resist the aging process.

The Prime of Life puts today’s challenges into new perspective by exploring how past generations navigated the passage to maturity, achieved intimacy and connection, raised children, sought meaning in work, and responded to loss. Coming of age has never been easy or predictable, Steven Mintz shows, and the process has always been shaped by gender and class. But whereas adulthood once meant culturally-prescribed roles and relationships, the social and economic convulsions of the last sixty years have transformed it fundamentally, tearing up these shared scripts and leaving adults to fashion meaning and coherence in an increasingly individualistic culture.

Mintz reconstructs the emotional interior of a life stage too often relegated to self-help books and domestic melodramas. Emphasizing adulthood’s joys and fulfillments as well as its frustrations and regrets, he shows how cultural and historical circumstances have consistently reshaped what it means to be a grown up in contemporary society. The Prime of Life urges us to confront adulthood’s realities with candor and determination and to value and embrace the responsibility, sensible judgment, wisdom, and compassionate understanding it can bring.

At the Harvard University Press blog:

Is Adulthood Dying?

American Literature’s Adulthood Problem



Huck's Raft

A History of American Childhood

Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

2005 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American social history.


2005 R.R. Hawkins Award of the Association of American Publishers for the best scholarly book.


2005 Carr P. Collins Award of the Texas Institute of Letters for the best non-fiction book published in the preceding year.   

A "fascinating and massively documented exploration of four centuries of American childhood...A work of scholarly integrity and humanist zeal."

Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement


"This is a rich and stimulating book, revealing how much childhood has changed over the centuries and how much some things never change."

Michael Dirda, Washington Post


"An engaging, sober and often poignant account of how adults have viewed and treated children...The compelling history of childhood Mintz offers us is a valuable reminder that nostalgia for a golden age that never existed is not just misleading but counterproductive."

Eric Arneson, Chicago Tribune


"Steven Mintz has written one of the very best books I've read in the last decade, a highly original masterpiece which combines immense breadth with the often painful and complex specificity of 'growing up in America.'"

David Brion Davis, Yale University

Huck's Raft, the first comprehensive history of American childhood, places children at the center of the events that shaped our past. Colonization, the American Revolution, slavery, the Civil War, westward migration, the Industrial Revolution, foreign immigration, the Great Depression, two world wars, and the Civil Rights movement take on fresh meaning when viewed through the voices and experiences of children.


Here, readers can discover how childrearing, children's health, schooling, play, toys, and literature changed over time. Children's experiences in orphanages, reform schools, and factories, fields, and mines come to life in the book's pages.


Drawing on a wealth of letters, diaries, and other first-hand accounts, Huck's Raft provides essential historical perspective on topics that have absorbed public attention: Whether children's well-being is declining; whether television and consumer culture have stunted children's imagination; and whether children are growing up faster than in the past. The volume corrects nostalgia-laden images of childhood past, and lays bare the ways that American childhood has changed, for better and worse, over the past four centuries.




African American Voices

America and its Peoples

Boisterous Sea of Liberty

Critical Issues in American History

Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life

History of US: Sourcebook

Hollywood's America

Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood

Mexican American Voices

Moralists & Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers

Native American Voices

The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood

A Prison of Expectations: The Family in Victorian Culture

The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Race, and the Ambiguities of Reform



Recent Courses

American History Through Film

American History Through Sight & Sound

Digital History

History of Evil

History of Private Life

Kids & Teens in American History

Making of Ethnic America

Multicultural America

Places in Time

Power, Influence, & Identity

The Americas

U.S. to 1877

U.S. since 1877

Op-Ed Essays

“The New Adulthood”
Chronicle of Higher Education

The Future Is Now: 15 Innovations to Watch For”
Chronicle of Higher Education

“The kids are moving back in after college? Smart career move.”

Washington Post

“A ‘Golden Age’ of Childhood?”

Christian Science Monitor


"How We All Became Jewish Mothers"

National Post (Canada)

Recent Honors

Inducted into the Society of American Historians

Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

President, Society for the History of Children and Youth

President, H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online

Chair, Council on Contemporary Families

Chair, Bancroft Prize Jury

Chair, Frederick Douglass Prize Jury

Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque Lecturer at the Yale University Art Gallery

Presidential Scholar, Hofstra University



Major Grants

State Systems Transformation Co-Creation Planning Grant
$200,000, Gates Foundation, 2014


Graduate School Teaching in the Arts & Sciences
$125,000, Teagle Foundation, 2012


History Education for All: A Center for History Education
$1.7 million, NEH Challenge Grant, 2011


AGEP Planning Grant

$150,000, NSF, 2011


Teagle Teaching Scholars Program

$35,000, Teagle Foundation, 2010


Psychological Science and Student Learning

$150,000, Teagle Foundation, 2008


Texas Teachers Teaching American History

$1,300,000, U.S. Department of Education, 2008


The Constitution: A Living History

$1,127,736, U.S. Department of Education, 2006


American Voices

$984,899 U.S. Department of Education, 2005


Grants for Teaching and Learning Resources and Curriculum Development

$199,744, NEH, 2005


TAH-squared: Teaching American History, Teachers as Historians

$999,809 U.S. Department of Education, 2003


ePath: The Electronic Project for the Active Teaching of History

$970,000 U.S. Department of Education, 2002


PATH: The Project for the Active Teaching of History

$988,000, U.S. Department of Education, 2001


"Creating the History Classroom for the 21st Century"

$190,000, NEH, 1995

African and African American Studies

$2.66 million, NEH Challenge Grant, 1992




Psychology Today
The Prime of Life blog

The New Adulthood

A revolution has redrawn the map of adulthood.


Bourgeois Revolution

Many of our fantasies and expectations about marriage and family life arose two centuries ago.


Wresting Meaning from Loss

How successive generations have dealt with loss.

Do We Age in Stages?

Today's adults have greater freedom than ever to decide how best to live.


The Ambiguities of Progress

Is life getting better?


Finding Meaning in Work 

How the new economy has altered the psychology of work


Marriage in Retreat            

Why adults are falling out of love with marriage


How to Parent      

Lessons from a century of contradictory advice


Adulthood's Dirty Secret    

Social class is felt most palpably in education, family life, and work


Is True Friendship Still Possible?   

Some experts insist that intimate friendship is dying. Do you agree?


Who Is an Adult?

Moving beyond the standard definitions


Midlife: Adult's Prime        

Why middle age truly is the prime of life


The Paradox of Modern Adulthood 

In an age of fracture, an earlier script of adulthood has crumbled

Do Generations Exist?       

Are generations caricatures or are they drivers of social and cultural change?


Generations Divided

How America Became Segregated by Age


Higher Ed Beta
Defining the future of higher education

Competency-Based Education 2.0

Definitions and values.


Reimagining Undergraduate Education

Alternatives to courses. 


Six Transformational Ideas for the New Year

Scale, personalization, flexibility and more.


Students as Producers, Students as Partners

An exciting new way to think about the teacher-student relationship. 


Rethinking Retention

New strategies to raise graduation rates.


A Gamified Approach to Teaching and Learning

Customized, self-paced, adaptive.


Next Generation Online Learning

Five forms.


The Future of MOOCs

Challenges and lessons.


Educating the Whole Person

Moving beyond basic skills.


Connected Learning

What higher ed can learn from social media.


New Models of Higher Education

A differentiated approach.


Low Residency

Another form of hybrid learning.


The Future of Higher Education

A status report.


The Shape of Higher Ed Yet to Come

New options.


Promoting Students’ Non-Cognitive Development

Understanding the full student experience.


The Degree Vertical

A new pathway to student success.

Expanding Your Online Pedagogy Toolkit

New instructional support models.


Four Emergent Higher Education Models

Extension, distributed, the cloud and student-centered.


The Shifting Role of University Systems

A key issue for public higher ed.


Curricular Optimization

An idea whose time may have come.


Five Ways that 21st and 20th Century Learning Will Differ

Proficiency, data, science and more.


The Pedagogy of Discovery

7 options for generating new knowledge. 


What Non-Profit Universities Can Learn from the For-Profits

6 lessons and 6 implications.


Welcome to Higher Ed Beta

Introduction to a new blog on MOOCs and beyond



Teaching Resources

Handbook for Teaching Fellows
A guide to effective teaching


Teaching Classic Texts

Teaching in a great books curriculum

Active Learning

  Integrating Active Learning Activities into Your Class


  Making Group Work Work



  Assessing Student Learning

Classroom Management


  Handling Hot Topics in the Classroom


  How to Discourage Plagiarism

  Leading Scintillating, Substantive Classroom Discussions


  Helping Your Students Read Effectively and Efficiently


Lectures and Presentations

  How to Give Highly Effective Lectures—and Job Talks and Conference Presentations


  The Do's and Don't's of Effective Lectures

Professional Conduct

  Ethical Issues in the College Classroom


  How to Avoid Being Sued: Academic Freedom, Academic Honesty, Intellectual Property, Sexual Harassment

  TA-Student Relationships



Professional Development

  Preparing for the Academic Job Market


  Career-Ending Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

  Creating a Killer C.V.


  Expanding Your Options: Pursuing Careers in Academic Administration

  Job Hunting in Tough Times


  Marketing Your Teaching


  Negotiating Your First Job Offer


  Sample Interview Questions


  The Two-Body Problem

Science of Learning

  10 Principles to Enhance Student Learning


  Glossary: The Language of Teaching and Learning


  The Psychology of Learning and the Arts of Teaching

Teaching-oriented Journals

  Teaching Journals


Technology and Teaching


   e-Learning: Higher Ed in a Web 2.0 World


  Establishing an Online Presence




  Completing Your Dissertation Without Tears

  How to Write a Compelling Fellowship Application


  Integrating Writing into Your Teaching


  Principles of Effective Writing Instruction


  Teaching Creative Writing


  Write Like a Pro


  The Write Stuff: The Secrets of Academic Writing



Digital History
Using new technologies to enhance teaching and research.


Education reengineered for the 21st century.





Institute for Transformational Learning
Making a quality higher education more accessible, affordable, and successful.



Council on Contemporary Families

Family researchers, mental health and social work professionals, and clinicians dedicated to enhancing the national conversation about what families need and how these needs can best be met.