Photo of Elizabeth Gritter

Elizabeth Gritter Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History
Director, Institute for Local and Oral History
Social Sciences Division

Crestview Hall 133
Phone: (812) 941-2292


Elizabeth Gritter, Ph.D., is a historian who specializes in U.S. history since 1865 with a focus on the black freedom struggle. She is an assistant professor of history at IU Southeast. 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 In 2016, she self-published Memphis Voices: Oral Histories on Race Relations, Civil Rights, and Politics. It is available for free at this web site:

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 directs IU Southeast’s Institute for Local and Oral History. She also serves as the campus historian for Indiana University Southeast and is participating in the planning of Indiana University’s bicentennial in 2020. For more information on the institute and its projects, check out its web site at She co-directed the Floyd County Oral History Project in 2016, and since 2016 she has directed the IU Southeast division of the IU Bicentennial Oral History Project. She received her training in oral history as a research assistant 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 for the program. 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

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) as well as other journals. 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.

Dr. Gritter is a member of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Southern Historical Association, Southern Association for Women Historians, and Oral History Association.

Academic Background

  • Doctorate

    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States
    • Doctor of Philosophy, Major in History, Minor in Women and Gender Studies
  • Masters

    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States
    • Master of Arts, Major in History
  • Bachelors

    • American University, Washington, D.C., United States
    • Bachelors of Arts, Major in Political Science, Minor in History and Communication

Professional Interests


U.S. History, African American History, Civil Rights Movement History, Oral History, Historical Research and Methods


Modern U.S. History, African American History, Civil Rights Movement History, Oral History



  • Elizabeth Gritter. (2014). River of Hope: Black Politics and the Memphis Freedom Movement, 1865-1954. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.