Hine, Darlene Clark 1947–
Darlene Clark Hine 1947–
Historian, author, educator
Darlene Clark Hine is a pioneering scholar in the field of African American women’s history. She has written three award-winning books on African American women’s history, and edited a two-volume encyclopedia, Black Women in America, the first major encyclopedia on the subject. Hine is considered to be a leading expert on the subject of race, class, and gender in American society. As the John A. Hannah Professor of History at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Hine helped to establish a new doctoral field in comparative African American history, one of the first of its kind. She has co-edited a 16-volume series on African American history in the United States, Milestones in African American History, as well as numerous anthologies.
In her academic work, Hine seeks not only to explore African American history, but also to redefine the discipline of history itself. “To me, the historical profession is still too caught up with the wealthy and the influential in political, social, and cultural arenas, who actually number only a very small minority of the human population,” Hine told Roger Adelson of the Historian. “…Because so few of the new social historians have included black women, who remained at the very bottom of the ladder in the United States, we continue to lose much understanding and wisdom.”
Hine was born in Morley, Missouri, on February 7, 1947, the oldest of four children of Levester Clark, a truck driver, and Lottie Mae (Thompson) Clark, a homemaker. When she was three-years-old, her parents moved north to Chicago in order to obtain better jobs, while Hine remained behind with her grandparents. Her grandmother was an early influence in Hine’s life. As she told Roger Adelson of the Historian, “my maternal grandmother early observed that I was ‘smart,’ and she saw to it that the rest of the family neither discouraged my reading nor dampened my curiosity.”
When she was nine years old, Hine left Missouri to join her parents on the west side of Chicago. From that point until she graduated from high school, her weekly routine was the same: weekdays she went to school, Sundays to church, and Saturdays to the public library. “Every Saturday I checked out five or six books to take me
At a Glance…
Born Darlene Clark, Morley, MO, February 7, 1947; daughter of Levester Clark, a truck driver, and Lottie Mae (Thompson) Clark, a homemaker; married William C. Hine, 1970 (divorced 1974), Johnny E. Brown, 1981 (divorced, 1986); children: one daughter, Robbie Davine. Education: Roosevelt University, BA, 1968; Kent State University, MA, 1970, PhD, 1975. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Baptist.
Career: South Carolina State College, Orangeburg, SC, assistant professor of history and coordinator of black studies, 1972–74; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, assistant professor, 1974–79; associate professor, 1979–85; professor of history, 1985–87, interim director of Africana Studies and Research Center, 1978–79, vice provost, 1981–86; Michigan State University, East Lansing, Ml, John A. Hannah Professor of History, 1987-
Selected awards: Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center of Human Rights, 1990; Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, Association of Black Women Historians, 1990; Outstanding Reference Source Award, American Library Association, 1994; Zora Neale Hurston-Paul Robeson Award, National Council for Black Studies, 1995.
Selected memberships: American Historical Association; Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History; Southern Historical Association; Southern Association for Women Historians.
Addresses: Home—East Lansing, Ml. Office — Department of History, 301 Morrill Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Ml 48224.
through the week,” she was quoted as saying in the Historian.
After graduating from Crane High School as valedictorian, Hine was offered a full scholarship to Chicago’s Roosevelt University, where she began undergraduate work in 1964. During her freshman year, Hine discovered that she was pregnant; her daughter, Robbie Davine, was born that summer. “With my baby daughter to support and educate, I became more determined than ever to be a success,” Hine told Adelson.
While she had originally planned to become a microbiologist, Hine began to develop an interest in African American history during her years at Roosevelt. As an undergraduate, she attended meetings of the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam, read books published by independent black presses, and attended lectures by eminent African American scholars. “Hearing black activists refer so often to history, seeing the black culture of the past and present celebrated by Chicago artists, and reading so many new works penned by black authors helped convince me that I should major in history,” Hine remarked in the Historian.
The civil rights struggles of the 1960s also made her aware of the kind of history that was commonly taught in American schools—and the possibility that she could someday change the definition of “history.” “When I was searching for some way to make a contribution to the whole movement for social justice, I came across the Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program,” Hine was quoted as saying in the PBS documentary program, Shattering the Silences: Minority Professors Break into the Ivory Tower. “It was the fifth point that really struck me. The fifth point said we want a true education for our people. And I said, wow! That’s it!”
After graduating from Roosevelt, Hine was awarded a graduate fellowship to attend Kent State University in Ohio. As a student at Kent State, she was present when the National Guard fired on student protesters in 1970. “I almost shut down emotionally, intellectually. It didn’t make any sense. I went into exile into the library,” she was quoted as saying in Shattering the Silences.
In 1972, Hine accepted a position as assistant professor of history and coordinator of African American studies at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg. During this time, she worked on her doctoral dissertation, which was later published as her first book, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas. “It reflects my concerns with the antecedents to the modern civil rights movement,” Hine remarked in Contemporary Authors.
In 1974, Hine took a job as assistant professor at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana. She rose steadily through the ranks at Purdue, becoming an associate professor in 1979 and a full professor in 1985. Hine also held two administrative positions: interim director of Africana Studies and Research Center from 1978 to 1979, and vice provost from 1981 to 1986.
During her tenure at Purdue, Hine began to focus on African American women’s history—a development that came about in an unorthodox manner. In 1980, she received a phone call from Shirley Herd, president of the Indianapolis section of the National Council of Negro Women. Herd wanted to commission Hine to write a history of African American women in Indiana. At first, Hine was uninterested. As she recalled in Shattering the Silences, she initially told Herd, “‘…you cannot call up a historian and order a book the way you would drive up to a Wendy’s and order a hamburger. We historians do not work like that.’ And Mrs. Herd was undaunted.” Hine eventually agreed to look at the papers that Herd’s organization had collected: letters, diaries, church bulletins, newspaper clippings, receipts, and legal documents. The papers revealed an unknown story: how black women had raised money to found and maintain churches, schools, settlement houses, and clinics. Using the information provided by Herd, Hine published a book, When the Truth Is Told: Black Women’s Community and Culture in Indiana, 1875–1950.
“Historians can write a history of anything or anyone,” Hine was quoted as saying in Shattering the Silences, “but the key is the historian must decide that thing, event, person or group is worthy of investigation. And apparently no one had ever thought black women were worth studying.” After the publication of When the Truth Is Told, Hine received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to set up the Black Women in the Middle West Project, an archive of information on African American women. In 1985, Hine co-edited a book about these sources, Black Women in the Middle West: A Comprehensive Research Guide, Illinois and Indiana.
In 1987, Hine accepted the position of John A. Hannah Professor of History at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Since then, she has published two more books, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890–1950 (1989), and Speak Truth to Power. The Black Professional Class in United States History (1996). In addition to her academic writing, Hine edited a 16-volume series called Milestones in African American History (1993) designed for middle-and high-school students. Also in 1993, Hine edited a two-volume encyclopedia, Black Women in America. “The encyclopedia is intended to place a stone in the shoe of every American historian,” Hine remarked in Contemporary Authors. “The encyclopedia will make it difficult, if not impossible, to exclude black women and their deeds, contributions, and experiences….”
At Michigan State, Hine worked with other history professors to establish a new doctoral field in comparative African American history, encompassing African, African American, Latin American, Caribbean, and southern U.S. history. “This is one of the most exciting things that I’m doing within the larger field of African American history at present,” Hine told the Historian. In 1997, Hine published the book Hine Sight, a collection of 14 of her most significant articles and essays. The book not only made her work more accessible, Hine told the Historian, but also served “to trace the evolution of my thinking about black women as historical subjects.” She remarked further, “I hope that I can continue to give voice to people who otherwise would be ignored or forgotten, or rendered invisible and dismissed as unimportant,” Hine told Adelson. “If I can…impress upon the historical profession how important it is to talk to those people who do not leave written records, but who have remembrances and have influenced generations and people all over the globe, then I feel that my career is worthwhile.”
Contemporary Authors, volume 143, Gale Research, 1994.
The Historian, Winter 1995, pp. 259–74.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from a transcript of the PBS documentary Shattering the Silences: Minority Professors Break into the Ivory Tower at www.pbs.org/shattering/hine.html.
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