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Jessica Wilkerson

Jessica Wilkerson, A Women's History of Appalachia

Jessica Wilkerson
“A Women's History of Appalachia”
Thursday, March 2, 7:30 PM

***NOTE: CHANGE OF VENUE -- Brock Auditorium, Coates Building***

Keynote Address for Women’s History Month

Jessica Wilkerson is a 2021-23 Carnegie Research Fellow, Associate Professor of History and Joyce and Stuart Robbins Chair of History at West Virginia University and the author of To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2019).

After completing her B.A. at Carson Newman College and the M.A. at Sara Lawrence College, Wilkerson went on to earn the Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2014. Prior to arriving at West Virginia, she was on faculty at the University of Mississippi for six years and a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Wilkerson’s research and teaching explores questions of political economy and social change in the twentieth-century South and Appalachia. She is currently interested in exploring—and countering—big narratives: that of Appalachia and how it intersects with ideas of race and gender; and the mainstream history of the modern American women’s movement. Her first book, To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice, traces the alliances forged and the grassroots movements led by working-class women in the Appalachian South in the 1960s and 1970s. The book received the H.L. Mitchell Award for distinguished book on the southern working class from the Southern Historical Association and Honorable Mention from the Philip Taft Prize in Labor and Working-Class History. The dissertation on which the book was based won the OAH Lerner-Scott Prize and the Labor and Working-Class History’s Herbert Gutman Prize.

Dr. Wilkerson has collaborated on or co-founded several oral history and public history projects, including the Long Women's Movement Project at the Southern Oral History Program, the Invisible Histories Project-Mississippi to document LGBTQ+ history in Mississippi, and the Black Families of Yalobusha County, MS Oral History Project at the University of Mississippi. At WVU, she is currently collaborating with former women coal miners on an oral history project documenting their lives and work, and she is on the advisory board for the West Virginia Feminist Activist History Collection.

Dr. Wilkerson is currently working on two book projects. A Women’s History of Appalachia will be the first narrative history of the Mountain South through the lives of women who lived and worked in the region from the nineteenth century to the present. In her other project, In Sisterhood, In Struggle: Feminisms of the American South, Dr. Wilkerson explores the understudied yet expansive women's movements throughout the South and Appalachia from the 1960s through the 1990s. Along with scholarly projects, she has written regularly for popular media outlets including 100 Days in Appalachia, Boston Review, NPR, Rewire News, Washington Post and Longreads.

Sponsored by Women and Gender Studies, the Office of Student Life, Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Honors Program.


Published on March 03, 2023

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