Elizabeth Gritter, Ph.D., is a historian who specializes in U.S. history since 1865 with a focus on the black freedom struggle. Her book, River of Hope: Black Politics and the Memphis Freedom Movement, 1865-1954, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in February 2014. For more information, please see http://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=3530.
For her research, she has conducted thirty-three oral histories of Memphians, including of the late Maxine Smith, the most recognized civil rights advocate in the city, and the late H. T. Lockard, the first black cabinet member in Tennessee. The oral history of Lockard was published in Southern Cultures (Fall 2008). In addition to her Memphis interviews, her oral histories of Julian Bond and documentary photographer Billy E. Barnes are housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also were published as articles in Southern Cultures. Her other publications include op eds on her research in The Tennessean and “‘Women Did Everything Except Run’: Black Women’s Participation in the 1959 Volunteer Ticket Campaign in Memphis, Tennessee,” in Entering the Fray: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the New South (Univ. of Missouri Press, 2010).
Dr. Gritter received her training in oral history as part of a research team for the prestigious Southern Oral History Program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; she traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, and Charlotte, North Carolina, to conduct oral histories on school busing and economic aspects of the civil rights movement. She went on to work as a research associate for the Congressionally mandated Civil Rights History Project, which was carried out by the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and American Folklore Society. She was one of four researchers charged with conducting a nationwide survey of archival collections containing oral histories and interviews related to the civil rights movement. The database of their findings is available at http://www.loc.gov/folklife/civilrights/.
Dr. Gritter has reviewed books for the Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, and H-SAWH (the online book review service sponsored by the Southern Association for Women Historians) on the black freedom struggle as well. She has presented her research at a number of conferences, including ones in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; New York, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Nashville, Tennessee. In addition, she was invited to speak at the Little Rock School Desegregation Crisis 50th Anniversary International Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The winner of numerous grants in support of her research, Dr. Gritter received the prestigious Kennedy Research Grant from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. She was awarded the nationally competitive Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2000.
Before starting her current position at Indiana University Southeast, Dr. Gritter served as visiting assistant professor of U.S. history at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She is a member of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Southern Historical Association, Southern Association for Women Historians, and Western Association of Women Historians.