Sally McMillen


Ph.D. Duke University
M.A. University of North Carolina, Charlotte
M.L.S. Pratt Institute
B.A. Wellesley College


My interest in southern and women’s history developed when our family moved to the South from San Francisco. Having been born and raised in Laguna Beach, Calif., and educated at a women’s college in the East, the South came as a complete and puzzling surprise to me. I had been working as a librarian but decided I wanted to start a different career and teach. So I returned to school to earn a master’s degree in history and loved it so much I decided to keep going. I emerged with a Ph.D. from Duke University in 1985, specializing in American women’s history and history of the American South. After teaching at Middle Tennessee State for three years, I had the good fortune to come to Davidson where I have been teaching since 1988.

The courses I teach include U.S. history; American women’s history; courses on the antebellum South and on New South; the Civil War and Reconstruction; seminars on the 1950s and on southern women; and two research and writing courses on the settlement of the American West and on disasters in American history. My research interests have shifted from focusing on the South to examining 19th-century American women. My books on the South include: Motherhood in the Old South; Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South; To Raise Up the South: Sunday Schools in Black and White Churches; and co-edited books on Problems in the American South and North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times. My most recent work includes the book, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement, and my current project, a biography of Lucy Stone. I have also written articles on a variety of topics, including southern fatherhood, neonatal tetanus among slave children, breastfeeding practices among southern women, Gladys Avery Tillett, and others.

My favorite activities (besides teaching at Davidson) include running, hiking, skiing, movie-going and traveling with my husband Bruce, reading, and spending as much time as possible with our family.