Elizabeth McRae is an associate professor of history at Western Carolina University, and previously held the university’s Creighton Sossomon Professorship in History from 2016-2019. McRae is a WCU alumna who received her master’s degree in history at the university in 1996. She also holds a master’s degree in secondary social science education from Marymount University in Virginia and a doctorate in American history from the University of Georgia. She joined the WCU faculty in 2000 and previously served as director of the Secondary Social Science Education Program for 10 years. Elizabeth McRae received her master’s degree in history at WCU in 1996.
McRae’s teaching and research interests center on the intersection of race, gender and politics in America and in the modern South. She has published articles in recent collections on Southern women’s history and in the Georgia Historical Quarterly, Carologue and the North Carolina Historical Review. Her book Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of Jim Crow will be published in 2017 by Oxford University Press.
McRae is co-director of “Mountain Lives, Mountain People,” an oral history training program involving students at Smoky Mountain High School.
Industry Expertise (3)
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (5)
Race and Politics
Gender and Politics
Frank and Harriet Owsley Award (professional)
Southern Historical Association
Outstanding Book Award (professional)
Society for Professors of Education
Frederick Jackson Turner Award (professional)
Organization of American Historians
University of Georgia: Ph.D., American History
Western Carolina University: M.A., History 1996
Wake Forest University: B.A.
Marymount University: MAED
Media Appearances (5)
Virginia’s governor’s race may hinge on debates about public schools
The Washington Post online
If Republican business executive Glenn Youngkin prevails over former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election Tuesday, his stance on public education may be partially responsible. Polls have suggested that Youngkin built momentum among White suburban swing voters by addressing an issue that is not typically front and center in state politics: the curriculum in Virginia’s public schools.
Integration and the disappearance of Black teachers
Smoky Mountain News online
If Black teachers lost their jobs or stopped teaching, it likely wasn’t because they weren’t up to snuff with expectations at the formerly white schools. In fact, WCU History Professor Elizabeth McRae said that at the time of integration, Black teachers in North Carolina had a higher average level of educational attainment than their white counterparts. It’s hard to say exactly why this was the case, but McRae has some thoughts.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is just the latest radical White woman poisoning politics
The Washington Post online
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vitriolic, conspiracy-laden, violent (anti-Semitic, white supremacist) rhetoric and politics have drawn widespread condemnation. News outlets and Republican colleagues have called her comments “nutty,” “kooky” and “loony,” while Democrats have been even harsher. On Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the House voted to strip Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments as punishment for her rhetoric. Yet Greene remains unrepentant, claiming that the vote “freed” her to spread her message, and to hold the “Republican Party accountable” and push it “to the right.”
The Women Behind White Power
The Washington Post online
Few Americans know the name Cornelia Dabney Tucker, but the Jim Crow South would not have been the same without her.
Mothers, pundits and the other white women who drive hate in America
The Globe and Mail online
The 20th-century history of this role-playing is the subject of Mothers of Massive Resistance, a book by professor Elizabeth Gillespie McRae examining women’s roles in the “politics of white supremacy.”
White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America's Racist History by Jane Dailey (review)Journal of Southern History
2022 For Jane Dailey, the puzzle of legal and customary restrictions and fears about white women marrying or having sex with Black men occupied the heart of the rise of the Jim Crow order in the United States. In fact, she argues that the linkage between citizenship and sex or civil rights and sexual rights served as the linchpin for establishing racial segregation and perhaps the greatest obstacle to the twentieth-century quest for racial equality.
Threatening Property: Race, Class, and Campaigns to Legislate Jim Crow NeighborhoodsJournal of American History
2020 In recent years, historical scholarship has mapped residential segregation in the nation's cities and suburbs, highlighting how federal loans and municipal policies combined to create wealth, spatial, racial, and ethnic inequalities.
The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated SouthJournal of American History
2013 This essay collection on segregation begins with the premise that locating the emergence of segregation is both “folly,” as the title suggests, and has limited the scope of historical inquiry (p. 5). Seeking to offer other directions, these six essays erode the boundary between customary and legal segregation and reveal intensely local and varied Jim Crow Souths.
Other Souths: Diversity and Difference in the U.S. South, Reconstruction to the Present (review)Journal of Interdisciplinary History
2010 In a collection that spans from Reconstruction to the beginning of this century, Other Souths presents some of the most important recent articles on the South that employ gender, race, class, and sexuality as intertwined categories of analysis. These previously published essays emerge together as a useful teaching text and important intellectual piece.
To Save a Home: Nell Battle Lewis and the Rise of Southern Conservatism, 1941-1956The North Carolina Historical Review
2004 On the eve of the second anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Nell Battle Lewis scratched out drafts of her Sunday" Incidentally" column for North Carolina's largest daily newspaper, Raleigh's News & Observer.