Perdue, Theda 1949–
Perdue, Theda 1949–
Born April 2, 1949, in McRae, GA; daughter of Howard (in business) and Ouida Perdue. Education: Mercer University, A.B., 1972; University of Georgia, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1976.
Office—Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB 3195, Hamilton Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3195.
History professor, writer. University of Georgia, Athens, GA, teaching assistant, 1974; Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, assistant professor of history, 1975-82; Clemson University, Clemson, SC, associate professor, 1983-85, professor of history, 1985-88; University of Kentucky, Louisville, KY, professor, 1988-97, Hallam Professor of history, 1997-98; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, visiting professor, 1995, professor, 1998-2003, Atlanta Distinguished Term Professor of history, 2003—.
Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, American Society for Ethnohistory, Southern Historical Association, Southern Association of Women Historians, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Epsilon.
Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1979.
(With James M. Gifford and James H. Horton) Our Mountain Heritage, Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University (Cullowee, NC), 1979.
Forgotten Nations: An Oral History of the Oklahoma Indian Territory, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1979.
Cherokee Editor: The Writings of Elias Boudinot, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1983.
Native Carolinas: Indians of North Carolina, North Carolina Archives and History (Raleigh, NC), 1985.
The Cherokee, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1989, 2nd edition, 2005.
Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907, University of Oklahoma Press (Tulsa, OK), 1993.
(Editor, with Michael D. Green) The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995, 2nd edition, 2004.
Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835, University of Nebraska Press (Omaha, NE), 1998.
(Editor) Sifters: Native American Women's Lives, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Michael D. Green) The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
"Mixed Blood" Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2003.
(With Michael D. Green) The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to Cherokees in Historical Perspective, edited by Duane King, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1979. Contributor of articles and reviews to history journals.
Writer, educator, and historian Theda Perdue was educated at Mercer University and the University of Georgia before going on to teach. She has served on the faculty of several universities, primarily in the South, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a professor in the department of history. Perdue's primary research interests revolve around the Native American people of the Southeast, with a focus on gender in Native societies and racial issues in the South. She is the author and/or editor of numerous books on Native life, particularly as pertains to the Cherokee, both within their own society and their treatment at the hands of the American government.
In The Cherokee, Perdue provides readers with an overall history of this Native people, from their first contact with Europeans arriving in North America to the 1980s. She presents myths and folklore and recounts historical events to show the adaptability of the tribe and the changes to their culture through the years. In particular, she gives a straightforward account of the Cherokee's removal from their lands and how that affected them as a population. Sharlotte Neely, in a review for the American Indian Quarterly, praised the author for her ability "to translate a wealth of information into plain English and condense a lengthy time period into only a hundred pages without sacrificing expertise."
In Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835, Perdue looks at the changes in status of the Cherokee women, offering readers a thorough cultural history of their roles in Cherokee society from 1700 to 1835. She also provides a general analysis of the social structure of the tribe, including an overview of the Cherokee's political, economic, military, and religious practices. Among other things, Perdue illustrates how many of the programs put in place by the U.S. government to promote skills and behaviors among the Cherokee resulted in an inequitable division of labor between the men and the women, something they had not faced when governed by their own strictures. In a review of the book for the Canadian Journal of History, Margaret Bender opined: "Perdue has done us a great service by raising issues so central to the relationship among gender, history, and culture, and by providing us with a careful and sensitive example of how to explore these issues through scholarship." Ellen L. Arnold, in a review for NWSA Journal, applauded Perdue for including "the historical contextualization of culture change and gender roles." Arnold went on to comment: "Perdue's use of myth, particularly the stories of Selu, the first woman and giver of corn, and her hunter husband Kana'ti, is the special strength of her history." In a review for the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, contributor Gregory Evans Dowd declared: "Authoritative, careful, and often witty, this volume should become standard reading in the historical subdisciplines of gender, American Indians, and the early American republic."
"Mixed Blood" Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South looks at interracial marriages between Native American women and Euro-American men and the children of intermarriages. In these mixed relationships, the Native behaviors and rituals took precedence; couples lived in Native communities and their offspring adhered to Native customs. Perdue also explores the attitudes that led to the removal of Native tribes, noting that politicians often discriminated against "mixed-blood" individuals. Andrew K. Frank, in a review for the Journal of Southern History, commented that "by offering an interpretation rooted in native cultural values, Perdue presents an alternative to the racial categories and thinking that seemingly dominate the field."
The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears, which Perdue cowrote with Michael Green, was published in 2007. The book addresses the history of the disputes between the Cherokee tribe and the British crown and, later, between the tribe and the U.S. government, all of which ultimately led to the removal of the Cherokee from their lands to areas designated as reservations by the government. This removal, which took place during the 1830s, is commonly referred to as the "Trail of Tears," due to the emotional and physical hardships it placed upon the Cherokee. The initial disputes were based in the British crown's belief that the land the Cherokee occupied was too vast and underutilized, and that it would be put to far better use if the Cherokee were to leave so British settlers could develop the region. However, the Cherokee's domain also divided British holdings from those controlled by the French, and so the Cherokee were allowed to remain during the early history of the colonies, as the British felt this division promoted peace between the two sovereign nations. However, once the United States was established, different principles dictated treatment of the Cherokee, whom Thomas Jefferson considered intelligent savages who could learn to be more civilized. As westward expansion began in earnest, the Cherokee were deported from their homeland and sent to live on reservations in Oklahoma. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews found the book to be "an illuminating history, devoted to an often overlooked and long-suffering people." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared Perdue's joint effort with Green to be "a lucid, readable account of … the 18th-century ‘right of conquest doctrine’ and the 19th-century ‘emerging doctrine of state rights.’"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February, 1980, review of Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866, p. 200; December, 1981, review of Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907, p. 1153.
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, fall, 1995, Walter H. Conser, review of The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents; summer, 2003, Russel Lawrence Barsh, review of "Mixed Blood" Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South.
American Indian Quarterly, spring, 1993, Sharlotte Neely, review of The Cherokee.
American Studies, fall, 2002, J. Anne Calhoon, review of Sifters: Native American Women's Lives.
American West, September 1, 1980, Theodore Kornweibel, review of Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866, p. 55.
Biography, summer, 2003, Susan Sleeper-Smith, review of Sifters.
Booklist, April 1, 2002, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 1353; June 1, 2002, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 1762; May 15, 2007, Deborah Donovan, review of The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears, p. 16.
Canadian Journal of History, December, 2001, Margaret Bender, review of Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835, p. 595.
Choice, October, 1998, J. Sochen, review of Cherokee Women, p. 382; December, 2001, B. Medicine, review of Sifters, p. 749; April, 2002, D.D. Siles, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 1404.
Journal of American Ethnic History, fall, 2004, Paul Spickard, review of "Mixed Blood" Indians.
Journal of American History, December, 1981, review of Nations Remembered, p. 681; September, 2000, Arthur H. DeRosier, review of Cherokee Women, p. 639; December, 2003, Jane T. Merritt, review of "Mixed Blood" Indians, p. 1011.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, winter, 1999, Gregory Evans Dowd, review of Cherokee Women.
Journal of Social History, summer, 2000, Tiya Miles, review of Cherokee Women.
Journal of Southern History, August, 2003, Kathryn E. Holland Braund, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 666; February, 2004, Andrew K. Frank, review of "Mixed Blood" Indians, p. 125.
Journal of the Early Republic, summer, 2003, George Price, review of "Mixed Blood" Indians.
Journal of the West, summer, 2003, Mona L. McCroskey, review of Sifters.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2007, review of The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears.
Library Journal, November 1, 1980, review of Nations Remembered, p. 2326; November 15, 2001, John Burch, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 61; September 1, 2002, review of Sifters, p. 62.
Mississippi Quarterly, winter, 1998, June Namias, review of Cherokee Women.
NWSA Journal, fall, 1998, Ellen L. Arnold, review of Cherokee Women, p. 233.
Pacific Historical Review, November, 2002, Nancy Shoemaker, review of Sifters, p. 672.
Pacific Northwest Quarterly, spring, 2002, Mary C. Wright, review of Sifters.
Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007, review of The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears, p. 44.
Reference & Research Book News, December, 1993, review of Nations Remembered, p. 11; March, 1996, review of The Cherokee Removal, p. 11; February, 2002, review of The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast, p. 41.
Social Education, October, 1993, review of Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866, p. 310.
Western Historical Quarterly, winter, 1995, review of The Cherokee Removal.