Award Winning Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence
By Elizabeth Bird, PhD
Special to USF News
Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2014) – In her long and illustrious career, scholar Jacquelyn Dowd Hall has documented the lives of those whose voices were absent from traditional histories – from the life stories of laid-off Southern textile workers, to the experiences of white female activists and African American civil rights leaders. She comes to USF Feb. 24 – 28, as the USF Humanities Institute’s first Spring Scholar-in-Residence.
Hall is the Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Winner of the National Humanities Medal, she is past president of the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, and the Labor and Working Class History Association and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the founding director of the Southern Oral History Program from 1973 to 2011.
Early in her career, Hall discovered the records of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and of its director from 1930 until 1942, a white Texas woman, resulting in her influential book, “Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women's Campaign Against Lynching.” From there, she went on to write extensively about women, the South, and race, and to establish oral history as a unique and vital approach to understanding the recent past.
Hall has long had a deep interest in the lives of early
activists, noting their key role in developing a critical voice about their own
region, before many were silenced during the anticommunist “witch hunts” of the
1950s. She believes we have a great deal to learn from these “lost"
activists.” This provides the framework for her talk, “The Challenge of Writing about Dissident Women in the
Shadow of the Long Cold War,” in which she traces the history of dissent from
the Popular Front to the Second Red Scare through the lives of expatriate
sisters: Grace Lumpkin, a proletarian writer whose 1929 novel, “To Make My Bread,” made her a briefly
soaring literary star; and Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, whose 1946 autobiography, “The Making of a
Southerner,” inaugurated a
new genre of critical reflections by people of conscience. She addresses the
challenges of how to recover the lives of women who destroyed their papers and
covered their tracks, and closes with the impact of McCarthyism on
While at USF, Hall will visit undergraduate and graduate classes in the Departments of Sociology, History, Gender Studies, and the School of Communication, and will lead a group of sociology graduate students on a field experience in Ybor City.
Her talk is Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. in CWY 206, followed by a reception. Welcoming remarks will be offered by Provost Ralph Wilcox, whose office provides funds for the Scholar-in-Residence program. To hear Hall talk about the legacies of the civil rights movement, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwsEN1d0cTE.