Pioneering historian Anne Firor Scott, who helped establish the field of women’s history and taught at Duke for three decades, has died. She was 97.
Scott was awarded a 2013 National Humanities Medal. In making the award, the National Endowment for the Humanities praised Scott’s “groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class.”
“In 1970, Anne Firor Scott of Duke University helped open the floodgates both for women historians and women’s history with ‘The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930,’” the citation reads. “…Scott not only destroyed the myth of the perfect but powerless ‘southern lady,’ but demonstrated how southern women found their own roles in the public square.”
Born in Montezuma, Georgia, in 1921, a year after U.S. women won the right to vote, Scott went on to work alongside aging suffragists at the National League of Women Voters in Washington, D.C. during World War II.
Scott graduated from the University of Georgia at 19, earned a master’s degree at Northwestern and completed her Ph.D. at Radcliffe while raising three small children. She later moved to North Carolina with her husband, political scientist Andrew Scott, teaching part-time at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke before joining the Duke faculty full-time. Scott taught at Duke from 1961 to 1991 and became history department chair in 1980. She received the University Medal for Distinguished, Meritorious Services at Duke in 1991.