Category: News

Summersell Center Sponsors Undergraduate Attendance at SHA Conference

Giggie and students
Dr. John Giggie, Margaret Lawson, Isabella Garrison, and Emma Pepperman


The Summersell Center and Director Dr. John Giggie sponsored the attendance of four undergraduate students – Margaret Lawson, Isabella Garrison, Emma Pepperman, and Morgan Alexander (not pictured) – at the Southern Historical Association‘s 2018 Conference in Birmingham, Alabama this past month. The SHA is a major conference on historical research into the American South.

The students, who are all planning on pursuing graduate study after graduation, were able to meet and network with graduate students, historians, editors, and The University of Alabama alumni. The Summersell Center put the students up for two days in Birmingham and paid their membership fees.

Students Visit Equal Justice Initiative

Dr. John Giggie and the students in his Alabama Memory: Lynching in Alabama class recently visited the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. There they presented the research they have done so far in the class. They also visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and EJI’s new museum, The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration.

Students and Giggie outside the EJI offices.
Dr. Giggie and students at the Equal Justice Initiative offices in Montgomery.


Soil from lynching sites.
Soil from lynching sites students have studied.


panels from the national lynching memorial
Hanging tablets at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Short-term Travel Fellowships for 2018-2019 Announced

Drs. Kathleen Hilliard & Sarah Gardner

The Summersell Center for the Study of the South and the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library of The University of Alabama are pleased to announce the recipients of short-term travel fellowships for 2018-2019. The winners are Dr. Sarah Gardner of Mercer University, who will be conducting research for her book, “A New Glass to See All Our Old Things Through”: Reading During the American Civil War, and Dr. Kathleen Hilliard of Iowa State University, who will be researching for her next project, Bonds Burst Asunder: The Revolutionary Politics of Getting By in Civil War and Emancipation, 1860-1867. The winners will travel to the Hoole Library during the course of the next year and use its holdings as part of a book project or a dissertation.

Student Group Attends National Lynching Memorial Unveiling

Dr. Giggie and a group of students attended the recent opening of a national lynching memorial in Montgomery. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice was founded by the Equal Justice Initiative on April 26th, 2018, in the heart of Alabama’s capital. While attending the unveiling ceremonies, Dr. Giggie and his students were able to meet Rev. C. T. Vivian, a minister deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement who worked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, the group also met  Alabama Senator Doug Jones. Following the ceremony, they then visited the memorial. Dr. Giggie and his students were grateful to be a part of such a momentous occasion and to have contributed to the recent research into and dialogue about this period of our nation’s history.

Margaret Lawson, Libby Hufham, Maruka Walker

Morgan Alexander, Emma Pepperman, Rev. John Alexander

Malcolm Cammeron and Dante Whittaker. Grad students

Margaret Lawson, Emma Pepperman, Rev. C. T. Vivian, Maruka Walker

Morgan Alexander, Sen. Doug Jones, Louise Jones, Emma Pepperman

PhD Candidate Melissa Young Awarded the 2018-2019 Rabbi Joachim Prinz Memorial Fellowship

Melissa Young's profile imagePhD Candidate Melissa Young has recently been awarded the 2018-2019 Rabbi Joachim Prinz Memorial Fellowship. As part of her fellowship, Melissa will spend a month at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She will conduct research for a chapter of her dissertation and share her work as part of an open AJA seminar in the summer.

American Jewish Archives LogoMelissa’s dissertation focuses on the important role Birmingham’s Jews played in the city’s development from 1871-1950. It highlights how they carved a space for their community by continually remaking their reputation in relation to fluid southern tropes. This allowed them to reject prevalent stereotypes, promote a strong Jewish identity, and respond rapidly to global crises associated with increased nativism, the Great Depression, and the Holocaust.  

When Melissa travels to Cincinnati, she will connect Birmingham Jews’ language and behavior to Jewish communities who used similar strategies in Atlanta, Memphis, and Nashville. She is excited about her research and can’t wait to see what she will discover!

Brie Smiley Accepted into Prestigious Research Apprenticeship

Photo of Brie SmileyThe Summersell Center is proud to announce that undergraduate Brie Smiley has been accepted into the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (MURAP) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

MURAP is a program that targets underrepresented and minority undergraduate students who are interested in careers in academia. The program chooses twenty rising juniors and seniors every year, focusing on humanities students, to attend a ten week intensive research program. The application process is rigorous, but because of Brie’s research background through programs within the Summersell Center, including the recent course on Pickens County lynchings with SCSS Director Dr. John Giggie she was well prepared not only for her application, but also for this opportunity.

Brie plans to research slave revolts, potentially in the U.S. as well as Latin America and the continental interior of Africa. She hopes to be a professor of either Africana Studies or history with a specialization in Africana. We are so proud of Brie, and we can’t wait to see her research through MURAP and beyond!

Nominations for the 2018 Deep South Book Prize are now Being Accepted

This image is a logo for the Deep South Book PrizeThe Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama continues to receive nominations for the 2018 Deep South Book Prize. Nominations will close on March 1, however.

The prize is awarded biennially for the best book on the history or culture of the Deep South, and the author of the prizewinner will receive a cash award of $500.

Books nominated for the next awarded prize must have been published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017. Three copies of each nominated book should be mailed by March 1, 2018 to:

Deep South Book Prize
Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South
237 ten Hoor Hall
Box 870212
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Questions or requests for additional information may be addressed to the Summersell Center at or at 205.348.1859.

Summersell Center Sponsors Visit to EJI Offices in Montgomery

This image shows students, along with Dr. Giggie, standing outside the EJI office in Montgomery, AL.

Students in Dr. Giggie’s HY 400 – Southern Memory: Lynching in Alabama course visited the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama on October 18th as part of their work to better understand and encourage awareness of racial violence during the post-Reconstruction era in Alabama.

The students, who are researching ten African-Americans lynched in Pickens County between 1883 and 1933, presented their findings to the officials at EJI. The students have been working in a variety of sources – newspapers, journals, census, wills, deeds, birth and death records – to recover the lives of the victims.

They are also building a digital humanities website meant to educate the public about these events and to serve as a database for other researchers. The students have previously worked with EJI to erect a memorial to these lynching victims in Tuscaloosa County, which was unveiled last year.

This image shows students in Dr. Giggie's class viewing the dirt samples from various Alabama lynching sites at the EJI offices in Montgomery, AL

Mississippi State University Professor Jason Morgan War to Speak Thursday, Oct. 12, at 5 PM

This image is a poster for the event and contains the same information as this post.
Follow the link in the image above for a full-size poster for the event.

The Summersell Center of the Study of the South and The University of Alabama Department of History will host Professor Jason Morgan Ward of Mississippi State University on Thursday, October 12, 2017, at 5 o’clock in room 30 ten Hoor Hall.

Ward is the author of Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century (2016) and Defending White Democracy: The Making of the Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965 (2011).

Ward’s talk is entitled, “Lifting the Veil: A White Alabama Graduate Undercover in Jim Crow Mississippi.”

This event is sponsored by the Summersell Center for the Study of the South and The University of Alabama Department of History. The event is free and open to the public.

Summersell Center Helps UA Students tell the Stories of Tuscaloosa County Lynching Victims.

This article appeared originally on The University of Alabama’s Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility’s website.

by Erin Mosley and Jamon Smith

An HY 300 student explores archival materials.

Dr. John Giggie describes the eras most Americans refer to as Reconstruction, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties as periods of racial terror for a significant portion of the country’s population. “At a time when the United States was in fact growing and prospering, many African-Americans feared for their lives,” says Giggie, associate professor of history and African American studies at The University of Alabama and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South.

More than 4,000 black people in 12 Southern states were lynched between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit human rights law firm whose mission includes challenging racial and economic injustice. And these are just the cases EJI has documented. At least 360 lynchings took place in Alabama, and at least 10 Tuscaloosa County men were murdered in this way.

Giggie took the Equal Justice Initiative’s baseline data on lynchings in Tuscaloosa County and asked his students to delve deeper. After exploring the history of lynching in America, students learn the research skills they need to find important documents and share them through a digital humanities website.

Andrew Robertson searches at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse for information about the preliminary trials of two men lynched in Sylvan, Ala., in 1892.

Fifteen UA students enrolled in HY 300/AAST 395 Southern Memory: Lynching in the South collectively spent more than 1,000 hours documenting the lives and circumstances surrounding the deaths of 10 Tuscaloosa County residents who were lynched between 1884 and 1933. They created a digital humanities website to share their findings with the public and serve as a database for lynchings in the South.

Students also worked in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative to advocate for a historical marker commemorating victims. On March 6, 2017, the marker was erected in front of the old Tuscaloosa County Jail. After the unveiling, more than 1,000 people attended a ceremony hosted by UA students, EJI representatives and community members at First African Baptist Church to honor the victims. Students Maruka Walker and Ellie Bowers were among the speakers, and discussed their research.

To continue reading this story, visit the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility’s website.