Constance McLaughlin Green was born in to an academic family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in Chicago. Her father was a history professor who won the Pulitizer Prize in 1936. She graduated from Smith College in 1919, then married Donald Ross Green, a textile executive, with whom she had three children. She went to Mount Holyoke College for her M.A., and completed a Ph.D. from Yale in 1937, shortly before her 40th birthday. Two years later, she published her first book, Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America. She taught history at both Mount Holyoke and Smith. During World War II, she was an historian at the Springfield Armory. Following the death of her husband in 1946, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as an historian for the American Red Cross, the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, and the Secretary of Defense. In 1954, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, she became director of the Washington History Project. She became a pioneer in the field of urban history, and a successful published female historian at a time when few women participated in the profession. She won the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1963 for the first volume of her book Washington: A History of the Capital, 1800-1950. Her other books included American Cities in the Growth of the Nation (1965); Eli Whitney and the Birth of American Technology (1956); The Rise of Urban America (1965), and The Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation's Capital (1967).