Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker

George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History Emerita

Melissa Walker


BA, Maryville College

MA, Providence College

PhD, Clark University


Dr. Walker retired in May 2017.

Dr. Walker is an award-winning teacher and scholar. She is the first faculty member at Converse to hold the George Dean Johnson, Jr. Chair in History. In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named her the South Carolina Professor of the Year. In recognition of her work at Converse, she received the O’Herron Award for Faculty Excellence in 2002 and the Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for outstanding teaching at Converse in 2001 as well as the Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award in 2007. She teaches a wide variety of courses in US History including The New South, The American Revolution in the Southern Backcountry, US Women’s History, African American History, and others. She regularly works with students on original research—sometimes an independent project pursued by a single student and sometimes on large projects involving an entire class. For example, in 2008, students in her US women’s history course conducted an oral history project with notable upstate South Carolina women. Their research became the basis of a multi-media exhibit at the Spartanburg County Public Library in March 2010.

She also enjoys working with K-12 history teachers. In addition to teaching graduate courses for current and aspiring teachers, in 2004, she served as the master scholar for a Teaching American History grant sponsored by the US Department of Education. In this capacity, she provided public school teachers with instruction in American history. In summer 2007 and again in 2009, she led workshops for teachers from across the country who came to Converse to study the American Revolution in the Southern Backcountry. This workshop was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks in American History and Culture Workshop program.

Dr. Walker is also an active scholar. She edited the agriculture volume of The New Encyclopedia for Southern Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2009). In 2007, her book Southern Farmers and Their Stories was published by the University Press of Kentucky. The book was awarded a prestigious Outstanding Academic Title Award from Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries for its overall excellence in scholarship and its value to undergraduate students. Her first book, All We Knew Was to Farm: Rural Women in the Upcountry South, 1919-1941, was published by John Hopkins University Press in 2000. The Southern Association for Women Historians awarded the book the Willie Lee Rose Prize for the best book in Southern history authored by a woman. She is co-editor of Southern Women at the Millennium, an edited collection of essays drawn from a 2001 conference she helped organize at Converse. Her edited collection of oral histories, Country Women Cope with Hard Times, was published by University of South Carolina Press in 2004. She also co-edited a book called Work Family and Faith: Rural Southern Women in the Twentieth Century with Dr. Rebecca Sharpless of Texas Christian University.

Her latest book, The Battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens:  The American Revolution in the Southern Backcountry, grew out of the course she teaches in January term.

Dr. Walker has received numerous grants to fund her research, most recently from the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and from the Schlesinger Library of Women's History at Harvard University. She is past-president of the Southern Association for Women Historians and the Agricultural History Society.  She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Southern History. She also serves on the board of HubCulture, Inc., a Spartanburg arts organization. Click here to see Dr. Walker's TEDx Spartanburg talk about HubCulture.  In 2011, Dr. Walker was one of two recipients to receive the Alumni Citation, the highest award given by her alma mater, Maryville College. In her spare time, Dr. Walker enjoys gardening, hiking and biking with her husband, and reading mystery novels.


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