Cynthia Eagle Russett was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1937. She received a bachelor's degree in history from Trinity College in Washington and master's and doctoral degrees in history from Yale University. She taught history at Yale University from 1967 until her death. She wrote several books including Darwin in America: The Intellectual Response, 1865-1912, The Extraordinary Mrs. R: A Friend Remembers Eleanor Roosevelt with William Turner Levy, and Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood. She died of multiple myeloma on December 5, 2013 at the age of 76.