Jennifer Ritterhouse

Jennifer Ritterhouse

Jennifer Ritterhouse


20th century U.S.; U.S. South; African American history; women and gender; children and childhood

Jennifer Ritterhouse earned her B.A at Harvard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Discovering the South: One Man's Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s (UNC Press, 2017) and Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race (UNC Press, 2006), as well as several articles. She is the editor of a reprint edition of Sarah Patton Boyle’s autobiography, The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition (UVA Press, 2001), and one of several co-editors of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South (New Press, 2001). She teaches classes on the 20th-century U.S., the U.S. South, research methods, and other topics.

Current Research

Professor Ritterhouse’s most recent book, Discovering the South: One Man's Travels through a Changing America in the 1930s (UNC Press, 2017), explores the politics and culture of a crucial period in United States history by following North Carolina newspaper editor Jonathan Daniels on a sweeping tour of the southern states in 1937. Written in an engaging, narrative style, Discovering the South examines a number of interrelated topics, from the New Deal's impact on the South, to the literary and intellectual history of the Southern Renaissance, to the race, class and gender dynamics evident in the tragic Scottsboro case and planters' and industrialists' violent responses to labor organizing. A companion website can be found at

At present, Dr. Ritterhouse is working on a book tentatively titled "Doing Southern Feminism: Betsy Brinson, the ACLU Southern Women's Rights Project, Intersectionality, and the Birth of Women's History." Centering on Brinson's organizing work for the ACLU in the late 1970s, the project debunks stereotypical notions about the women's movement and shows that Black women's influences and needs could make southern feminism especially intersectional and committed to coalition-building. It was a feminism for hard times and places--a feminism that activists can learn from today.

Selected Publications

Discovering the South: One Man's Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s, University of North Carolina Press, 2017. Winner of a 2017 Family History Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Companion website:

Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race, University of North Carolina Press, 2006. Received Honorable Mention for the 2007 Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

“Many Southerners, Many Souths: The New Beginnings of a Regional History,” in Reconsidering Regions in an Era of New Nationalism, ed. by Alexander Finkelstein and Anne Hyde, University of Nebraska Press, 2023.

“Lucy Randolph Mason: ‘Expedient’ Suffragist for Economic and Racial Justice in the South,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, June 2020.

"From the Great Depression to the 'End of Southern History'?," co-authored with Jason Morgan Ward, in Reinterpreting Southern Histories: Essays in Historiography, ed. by Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover, Louisiana State University Press, 2020.

 "Sarah Patton Boyle: A White Activist, the Black Pragmatist Who Taught Her, and the Long and the Short of the Civil Rights Movement," in Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times, vol. 2, ed. by Cynthia Kierner and Sandra Treadway, University of Georgia Press, 2016.

"Woman Flogged: Willie Sue Blagden, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and how an impulse for story led to a historiographical corrective," Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice, January 2014.

"Dixie Destinations: Rereading Jonathan Daniels's A Southerner Discovers the South," Southern Spaces: An Interdisciplinary Journal about Regions, Places, and Cultures of the American South and Their Global Connections (, May 2010.

“The Etiquette of Race Relations in the Jim Crow South,” in Manners in Southern History from the 1860s to the 1960s, edited by Ted Ownby. University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

“Reading, Intimacy, and the Role of Uncle Remus in White Southern Social Memory,” Journal of Southern History, August 2003.

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. Co-edited as part of the Behind the Veil project ( New Press, 2001.

The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition, by Sarah Patton Boyle. Edited with an introduction and selected correspondence, University Press of Virginia, 2001.

“Speaking of Race: Sarah Patton Boyle and the ‘T.J. Sellers Course for Backward Southern Whites,’” in Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History, edited by Martha Hodes. New York University Press, 1999.

Courses Taught

HIST 300: Introduction to Historical Method

HIST 352/AFAM 390: The South Since 1865

HIST 499: Senior Seminar in History

HIST 622: U.S. South Since 1865

HIST 634: Interwar America: 1918-1939

HIST 811; Doctoral Research Seminar

HNRS 260: Gender and Social Change

Dissertations Supervised

Mika Endo, Redefining Race: Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and American Indian Identification (2022)

Erin Bush, Under the Guise of Protection: Sex, Race, and Eugenics in Virginia's Reformatories for Wayward Girls, 1910-1942 (2019)

Lindsey Bestebreurtje, Built by the People Themselves: African American Community Development in Arlington, Virginia, from the Civil War through Civil Rights (2017)