OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Leslie A. Schwalm

Portrait of Leslie A. Schwalm

Leslie A. Schwalm is a professor of history and gender, women's, and sexuality studies at the University of Iowa, where she teaches courses on women's history, slavery, emancipation, and the Civil War. She is the author of prizewinning articles, books, and chapters on women's experiences of slavery, emancipation, and the Civil War; the struggle for civil rights in the postwar nation; and popular memory of slavery and the Civil War. Her first book, A Hard Fight for We: Women's Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina (1997), which won the Southern Association of Women Historians' Willie Lee Rose Prize as well as the Association of Black Women Historians' Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, explores enslaved women's experience of the wartime destruction of slavery and reveals their efforts to define and defend black freedom in postwar South Carolina. Her second book, Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest (2009), considers the northward migration and relocation of newly freed people during the Civil War and finds national meanings and consequences of emancipation in their fight for full citizenship rights in the upper Midwest. Her current research, supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa, explores the relationship of wartime medical and scientific research to ideologies and hierarchies of race.

OAH Lectures