In my first career, I taught middle school Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. When I made the decision to pursue graduate studies, I chose History not only because I have a passion for it but also because I had been inspired by and impressed with my History professors in undergraduate school. Once I acquired my M.A. degree, I started teaching college courses at my alma mater. That experience led me pretty quickly to the discovery that going for the Ph.D. and continuing as an educator was the right fit for me. I have had the good fortune of teaching a variety of students at highly regarded colleges and universities over the past few years – UNC Greensboro, Salem College, and Wake Forest University – and I am excited to be a faculty member at Meredith College given its tradition of providing quality education to women. Teaching not only gives me permission to be a true History geek who devours everything I can about my subjects, but it allows me to connect in a meaningful way to others. While many students take my classes because they need to fulfill a requirement, my hope is that they find lasting inspiration in addition to valuable knowledge, as I did in my own education.
Ph.D. in U.S. History, UNCG
B.S. in Middle Grades Education, UNCG
M.A. in Museum Studies, UNCG
I completed my dissertation, “Bridging the Old South and the New: Women in the Economic Transformation of the Piedmont of North Carolina, 1865-1920,” in 2010. I was inspired to do this research because historians have acknowledged the importance of women’s labor to the booming Piedmont textile and tobacco industries of the twentieth century, but most scholarship assumes that women did not play significant roles in the urban economy until that time. My work recounts a history of self-determination among increasing numbers of white urban women in the labor force, often as small businesswomen, and also in the courtroom, pursuing their newly established property rights and divorce with frequency. Their labor and litigation received little public attention from either their contemporaries or historians in light of the discourse that built up an ideal of white women’s economic and legal dependence. Nonetheless, with their daily lives marked by demands on their ability to support themselves and family members, they engaged in a wide range of economic activities. The work of all women was marked by a race and gender hierarchy that devalued the labor and earnings of white women in favor of notions of respectability and simultaneously kept black women in a subordinate and degraded position, most often as servants in white women’s homes. Rather than seeking to overturn ideals of womanhood that ignored their economic contributions for fear that they might slip from the pedestal constructed for them, white women used such social distinctions to their advantage, reinforcing the existing hierarchy through the labor they performed and employment of black servants for both their homes and businesses.
My current projects include offshoots of my dissertation research on topics such as small businesswomen in North Carolina and women’s civil court actions following the passage of married women’s property acts. I have also been conducting research in new areas, namely on the work of the state’s women on the home front during WWI.
“Alice Morgan Person: ‘My life has been out of the ordinary run of woman’s life,’” in North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, the University of Georgia Press, edited by Michele Gillespie and Sally McMillen, forthcoming (2014).
Book review of Pauli Murray & Caroline Ware: Forty Years of Letters in Black & White, edited by Anne Firor Scott (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006), North Carolina Historical Review LXXXV, no. 1 (January 2008), 108-109.
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