Dr. Wilkerson with Dr. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, her dissertation director. Photo by Sophie Hay.
Dr. Wilkerson with Dr. Jacquelyn D. Hall, her dissertation director, at the 2014 Gilder-Jordan Lecture. Photo by Sophie Hay.

We’re excited to congratulate faculty member Dr. Jessie Wilkerson, who just won an award for  her UNC dissertation, “Where Movements Meet: Women’s Activism in the Appalachian South, 1965–1980.” The Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians is awarded for the best dissertation in US women’s history. She accepted the award this weekend at the Annual Meeting of the OAH.

Dr. Wilkerson is in her first year at UM as Assistant Professor of History and Southern Studies. Read an interview with her here.

oah-logoHere’s the official press release from the Organization of American Historians:


BLOOMINGTON, IN—During its annual meeting in St. Louis, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) presented Jessica Wilkerson, University of Mississippi, with their prestigious 2015 Lerner-Scott Prize, which is given annually for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. women’s history.
“Where Movements Meet: From the War on Poverty to Grassroots Feminism in the Appalachian South” (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; adviser Jacquelyn Dowd Hall) is a beautifully written, nuanced study of the alliances forged and the grassroots movements led by women in the Appalachian South in the 1960s and 1970s. Drawing from a wide variety of sources including oral history interviews, archival film footage, memorabilia, local and underground publications, and manuscript collections, the dissertation shows how women shaped the federal War on Poverty in Appalachia and then used the skills they learned in antipoverty programs to foster social justice activism that continued in the 1970s and beyond. Encompassing in its analysis of class, race, gender, and geography, and deep in its probing of the lived experiences of a group of women who have been largely overlooked in the history of social movements of the 1960s, the study explores how rural, poor, and working-class women helped shape debates about welfare rights, women’s rights, and labor justice in the 1960s and 1970s, connecting white and black women, insiders and outsiders, to form a robust, interracial, intergenerational, and region-wide Appalachian movement. This is an engagingly presented and captivating dissertation that deserves wide readership.

The prize was presented on April 18 by OAH’s 2014–15 President Patty Limerick and 2015–16 President Jon Butler. A total of 50 recipients received 2015 OAH awards and prizes.

For more information, visit oah.org or call 812.855.7311.

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Founded in 1907, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to American history scholarship. With more than 7,800 members from the U.S. and abroad, OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, encouraging wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of history practitioners. It publishes the quarterly Journal of American History, the leading scholarly publication and journal of record in the field of American history for more than nine decades. It also publishes The American Historian magazine. Formerly known as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (MVHA), the association became the OAH in 1965 to reflect a broader scope focusing on national studies of American history. The OAH national headquarters are located in the historic Raintree House on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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