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Nell Irvin Painter        

Award-winning scholar and writer

Nell Painter is one of the pre-eminent historians in America today. A graduate of Harvard University, Painter is currently the Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University. She is the author of five books and countless articles relating to the history of the American South. Most recently, she has written Southern History across the Color Line, which moves across the divides that have compartmentalized southern history, women’s history and African American history by focusing on relationships among men and women of different races.

Painter’s knowledge of American history is vast and comprehensive. Based on the research for her book, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, she highlights the life of Sojourner Truth, both as an African-American woman and as a crusader for human rights. In addition, Painter, explores the issues of personal beauty, stereotypes of gender and race, and the history of racial prejudice in America.

Painter is a distinguished and award-winning scholar and writer. From 1997-2000 she directed the Program in African-American Studies at Princeton University. She was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Bordeaux, France, the University of Ghana, West Africa and Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty of Princeton in 1988 she taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At Princeton Painter teaches the history of white people to graduates and undergraduates and interdisciplinary approaches to graduate students. Much of her writing has been concerned with southerners such as Hosea Hudson, Gertrude Thomas and Wilbur Cash. In more recent years she has been writing on the United States as a whole, as exemplified in her third book, Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919, which won the Letitia Brown Memorial Publication Prize. Painter’s other books include The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South and Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction.

Her critically acclaimed book, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, won the nonfiction prize of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In Sojourner Truth, Painter focuses on the life of the black abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. A related article, "Representing Truth: Sojourner Truth’s Knowing and Becoming Known," appeared in The Journal of American History. Her current research project builds on her analysis of Sojourner Truth’s photographs and concerns personal beauty.

Painter has been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the Bunting Institute and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. She has been a recipient of the Brown Publication Prize, awarded by the Association of Black Woman Historians and has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University, her M.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.


What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era - The New York Times

Nell Irvin Painter is a professor emeritus of history at Princeton University and the author of “The History of White People.” A version of this op-ed appears in print ...

Nell Irvin Painter Quotes (Author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl)

10 quotes from Nell Irvin Painter: 'Following the anecdote, Beaumont explains the deadly meaning of race prejudice in the United States. Echoing Crèvecoeur ...

Without Obama There Would Be No Trump -

... There Would Be No Trump. Nell Irvin Painter, the emeritus Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton, is the author of "The History of White People.

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