Suzanne Lebsock, a professor at Rutgers University, studies the history of American women, both black and white. Her most recent book is A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial (W. W. Norton, 2003), a historical whodunit about a sensational case in 1895.
At Radcliffe, Lebsock will make a documentary film about a daring interracial experiment of the World War II era. At Virginia’s Hampton Institute (now University), beginning in the summer of 1944, college women—half of them black, half of them white, and two of them from Radcliffe—were recruited to work the college farm, replacing male students who had shipped out with the Navy. In a time when almost everything in Virginia was rigidly segregated, these adventurous young women lived, worked, ate, traveled, and studied together. As a group, they broke almost every rule in the apartheid book, offering us a vision of what people can accomplish when they have the chance to begin anew.
Lebsock has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and MacArthur foundations. Her books have won the Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize.