Evelyn B. Higginbotham

Evelyn B. Higginbotham

Chair, Department of History
Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Evelyn B. Higginbotham

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  She held the position of chair of the Department of African and African American Studies from 2006-2013.  In summer 2013, the University of Heidelberg Department of Theology and Heidelberg Center for American Studies bestowed the James W.C. Pennington Award upon Professor Higginbotham, who is now on-leave during the 2013-2014 academic year serving as a Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center.  The Duke University Law School invited Prof. Higginbotham to be the inaugural John Hope Franklin Professor of American Legal History, and she held this position for the academic year 2010-2011.  In May 2011 she received an honorary degree from Howard University.  In April 2012, Professor Higginbotham  was selected as one of the recipients of the competitive Hauser Innovation Grant awarded by the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) for the project “Portraits in Multimedia: A Social Engagement Project in African and African American Studies.”  She has also served as Acting-Director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research in the Spring 2008.

Professor Higginbotham earned a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in American History, an M.A. from Howard University, and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Before coming to Harvard, she taught on the full-time faculties of Dartmouth, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania.  In addition, she has served as a Visiting Professor at Princeton University, New York University, and Duke University.

Higginbotham has thoroughly revised and re-written the classic African American history survey From Slavery to Freedom.  She is the co-author with the late John Hope Franklin of this book’s ninth edition, published by McGraw Hill in January 2010.

Professor Higginbotham is co-editor with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of the African American National Biography (2008)—a multivolume-and electronic reference work that presents African American history through the lives of people. The AANB holds more than 4,000 individual biographical entries.  She also co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., African American Lives(2004), which served as the forerunner to the AANB

Professor Higginbotham was the editor-in-chief of The Harvard Guide to African-American History (2001) with general editors Darlene Clark Hine, and Leon Litwack.  She also co-edited History and Theory: Feminist Research, Debates and Contestations (1997). 

Higginbotham is the author of Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church: 1880-1920 (1993), which won numerous book prizes, most notably from the American Historical Association, the American Academy of Religion, the Association of Black Women Historians, and the Association for Research on Non-Profit and Voluntary Organizations. Righteous Discontent was also included among the New York Times Book Review’s Notable Books of the Year in 1993 and 1994. 

Her writings span diverse fields—African American religious history, women's history, civil rights, constructions of racial and gender identity, electoral politics, and the intersection of theory and history.  One of her most cited and reprinted articles is “African American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” winner of the best article prize of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in 1993.

Professor Higginbotham has received numerous awards. In May 2012, she received the Star Family Prize for Excellence in Advising Award for exemplary intellectual and personal guidance of Harvard undergraduate students in the inaugural year of the award by the Advising Programs Office of Harvard College.  In February 2012, she received the Living Legacy Award from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.  In 2010, Dr. Higginbotham was inducted into the American Philosophical Society for promoting useful knowledge. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History awarded her the Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion in October 2008, and the Urban League awarded her the Legend Award in August 2008. In April 2008, Unity First honored her for preserving African American History.  In March 2005, AOL Black Voices included her among the “Top 10 Black Women in Higher Education.”  In April 2003 she was chosen by Harvard University to be a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow in recognition of her achievements and scholarly eminence in the field of history.  In 2000 she received the YWCA of Boston’s Women of Achievement Award, and in 1994 the Scholar’s Medal of the University of Rochester.

Contact Information

Department of African and African American Studies
12 Quincy St. Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: (617) 495-7828