After graduating from Stanford University in 1950, I worked for Mademoiselle magazine in New York City, returning to California to be married and to continue magazine and newspaper writing while my children were young. After the birth of my third child, I enrolled at Claremont Graduate School where I earned a Ph.D. in History in 1966. I went with my family to Paris in 1966-67, studying French and preparing articles from my dissertation, "An American in Paris: The Career of an American pamphlet in French Revolutionary Politics, 1787-89." Coming back to the United States, I began teaching at San Diego State University.
I spent 1970 and 1971 in London doing research on my book, Ideology and Economic Thought in Seventeenth-Century England, which won of the 1978 Berkshire Prize. I returned with my family to Cambridge, England, in 1977 and 1978 where I was a Fellow Commoner at Churchill College. In 1980 I was named to the Council of the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, acting as chair from 1983 to 1986. I have also served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review and the William and Mary Quarterly.
In 1992 Harvard University Press bought out a collection of my essays, as "Liberalism and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination" and in 1994, I published with Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob Telling the Truth about History. In 2000, Harvard University Press published my study of early nineteenth-century America, "Inheriting the Revolution: the First Generation of Americans".