Lebsock, Suzanne 1949–

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Lebsock, Suzanne 1949–

(Suzanne Dee Lebsock)

PERSONAL: Born December 1, 1949, in Williston, ND; married Richard L. McCormick (a university president); children: Betsy, Michael. Education: Carleton College, B.A., 1971; University of Virginia, M.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1977.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, Rutgers University, 111 Van Dyck Hall, 16 Seminary Pl., New Brunswick, NJ, 08901. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and professor. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, assistant professor, became professor of history, 1977–93, acting director of women's studies, 1986–87, Board of Governors professor of history, 2003–; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 1993–95; University of Washington, Seattle, WA, professor of history, 1995–c. 2003. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, fellow, 1985.

MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, American Studies Association, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, Sisters in Crime, Southern Association for Women Historians, Southern Historical Association, Association of Women Historians.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grant from American Council of Learned Societies, 1978; Bancroft Prize, Columbia University, 1985, for The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, 1992; Francis Parkman Prize for literary distinction in the writing of American history, and Library of Virginia Literary Award, nonfiction winner, both 2004, both for A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial.



"A Share of Honour": Virginia Women, 1600–1945 (essays), Project (Richmond, VA), 1984.

The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860, W.W. Norton & Co. (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Anne Firor Scott) Virginia Women: The First Two Hundred Years, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (Williamsburg, VA), 1988.

(Contributor) Louise Tilly and Patricia Gurrin, editors, Women and Politics in the Twentieth Century, Russell Sage Foundation (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Nancy A. Hewitt) Visible Women: New Essays on American Activism, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1993.

A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial, W.W. Norton & Co. (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Journal of Southern History and Georgia Historical Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS: Suzanne Lebsock is a historian known for her expertise on the history of southern American women. Among her writings is The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860, which documents the lives of women in a slaveholding town during the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Wendy Kaminer, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called Lebsock's book "a lively and illuminating review," showing that "the women of Petersburg … enjoyed increasing personal autonomy and economic independence" during what was in many ways an era of "strident domesticity."

In 2003, Lebsock published a second award-winning historical volume A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial. The book examines an event which occurred in a small, segregated town in Virginia in 1895. Three black women—Mary Barnes, her daughter Pokey Barnes, and Mary Abernathy—were arrested and tried several times for using an ax to murder a white woman, Lucy Pollard, and robbing her husband, Edward, a wealthy farmer. The African-American women were accused by the first person arrested for the crime, a black man named Solomon Marable. In the community, many citizens, white and black, believed the women were innocent. There was a movement, primarily among African Americans, to free them. Lebsock draws on both primary sources, such as letters, and secondary sources, like court documents from the many related trials and newspaper stories, to tell the multi-faceted story. The historian argues that these women received justice that was at least somewhat fair despite the expectations of time and place. She also examines race relations in this part of post-Civil War America. Reviewing A Murder in Virginia in Southern Cultures, S. Willoughby Anderson commented: "By showing us engaged black citizens, divided whites, and the myriad daily interactions that took place beneath the veneer of a codifying racial system, Lebsock opens the window onto a remarkable moment of ambiguity and lost possibility in the South."



New York Times Book Review, February 26, 1984, Wendy Kaminer, review of The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860, p. 23.

Southern Cultures, summer, 2004, S. Willoughby Anderson, review of A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial, p. 110.


Rutgers University Web site, http://ur.rutgers.edu/ (July 24, 2003), "Noted Scholar Dr. Suzanne Lebsock Named Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers," biography of Suzanne Lebsock.