The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today that historian Adele Alexander is joining the National Council on the Humanities. The council is NEH’s 26-member advisory body. Alexander was nominated by President Barack Obama on Sept. 29, 2009 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 24, 2009.
“Dr. Alexander’s background in 19th- and 20th-century American history will provide an important depth of perspective to the National Council,” noted NEH Chairman Jim Leach.
The National Council on the Humanities meets four times a year to review grant applications and to advise NEH’s chairman. Alexander is replacing Marguerite Sullivan on the council. Alexander will be sworn in at the February 2010 meeting; her term will run until Jan. 26, 2014.
Alexander is Adjunct Professor of History at George Washington University, where she has taught since 1983. She teaches classes on the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and African-American women. Alexander has also taught at Howard University, University of Maryland-College Park, and Trinity College.
Her research focuses on the black Atlantic world, African-American history, and family history. In Ambiguous Lives: Free Women of Color in Rural Georgia, 1789-1879 (1991), Alexander examined the lives of free mixed-race women and their families, using the experiences of her ancestors as a springboard. For Homelands and Waterways: The American Journey of the Bond Family, 1846-1926 (1999), Alexander traced the paths taken and challenges faced by three generations of an African-American family, beginning with the marriage of John Robert Bond and Emma Thomas in 1865. Bond, the son of a white Englishwoman and a black laborer, became a sailor in the American Union Navy and married Thomas, a Virginia woman born into slavery. Alexander is their great-granddaughter. The book won the non-fiction prize of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Alexander’s scholarship also appears in: Sandra Fitzpatrick and Maria Goodwin, The Guide to Black Washington (1990, revised 1998); Darlene Clark Hine, et al, eds., Black Women in America: An Historic Encyclopedia (1993); Anita F. Hill and Emma Coleman Jordan, eds., Race, Gender and Power in America (1995); James O. Horton and Lois Horton, History of the African-American People (1995); Christie Anne Farnham, ed., Women of the American South (1997); and Roslyn Terborg-Penn and Janice Sumler Edmond, eds., Black Women’s History at the Intersection of Knowledge and Power (2000). Additionally she has written for the Washington Post, MS., Sage, Crisis, Washingtonian, American Visions, Women’s Review of Books, Radcliffe Quarterly, and Savoy.
Alexander received a B.A. from Radcliffe College in 1959 and an M.A. (1987) and Ph.D. (1994) in history from Howard University.