This article considers the institutional and intellectual trajectory of Elinor Ostrom as an interdisciplinary scholar in the postwar period and how her contributions have been reframed after she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. Two distinct but interrelated historiographical problems influence our perceptions of Ostrom. The first relates to the difficulties women face in dual-career partnerships that often affect their ability to establish independent academic careers and gain fair recognition for contributions to shared research programs. How Ostrom negotiated these challenges highlights the many and often hidden constraints professional women face. The second problem is how to gauge or weight the work of the Ostrom who was a multidisciplinary scholar of the commons with that of the Ostrom who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Exploring her trajectory in public choice over a half century makes apparent the remarkable force a Nobel Prize exerts on post hoc appraisals of a career.

You do not currently have access to this content.