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  • Anne Firor Scott, 1921–2019:In Memoriam

Anne Firor Scott, the celebrated historian of southern and American women's history, passed away on February 5, 2019, at the age of ninety-seven. She was born Anne Byrd Firor in Montezuma, Georgia, on April 24, 1921. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 1941, and after a short period of employment, she enrolled as a master's student at Northwestern University. Her study was interrupted by an internship in wartime Washington, D.C., but she completed a master's degree in 1944.1 She went to work for the League of Women Voters, and in 1947 she married Andrew MacKay Scott. The couple relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where, with a Radcliffe College fellowship, she pursued doctoral work in the History of American Civilization program. In 1958, directed by Oscar Handlin, she completed her dissertation at Radcliffe on southern Progressives in Congress.2 She and her husband moved to North Carolina in 1959 to accommodate his new position at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Having lectured at Haverford College and at UNC for a time, Anne Scott was invited in 1961 to take a full-time position in the Duke University history department, where she spent the remainder of her career. In 1980 she was named the William K. Boyd Professor of History, and she retired in 1991 as professor emerita.

While researching southern Progressives, Scott "kept stumbling over women," and she "realized that the women I encountered in the sources were missing from the standard accounts."3 Her vital first book, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830–1930 (Chicago, 1970), began to address that absence. Her later important contributions include Making the Invisible Woman Visible (Urbana, 1984); Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History (Urbana, 1991); and two edited volumes, Unheard Voices: The First Historians of Southern [End Page 117] Women (Charlottesville, 1993); and Pauli Murray and Caroline Ware: Forty Years of Letters in Black and White (Chapel Hill, 2006).

Among her many positions of service to the profession, Scott was president of the Organization of American Historians in 1983–1984.4 She was on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Southern History from 1980 to 1983, and in 1989 she served as president of the Southern Historical Association.5 In recognition of her illustrious achievements, President Barack Obama awarded Scott the National Humanities Medal in 2013.

To honor Anne Firor Scott's enormous contributions to the field of southern history, which are only touched upon in this introductory note, the Journal editors invited Sara M. Evans to address Scott's importance as a teacher and mentor and Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore to discuss Scott's research and legacy. We are grateful for their contributions. [End Page 118]


1. Anne Byrd Firor, "Representation in International Organizations" (M.A. thesis, Northwestern University, 1944).

2. Anne Firor Scott, "The Southern Progressives in National Politics, 1906–1916" (Ph.D. dissertation, Radcliffe College, 1958).

3. Anne Firor Scott, "Chance or Choice?," in John B. Boles, ed., Shapers of Southern History: Autobiographical Reflections (Athens, Ga., 2004), 40–61 (quotations on 56).

4. For her presidential address, see Anne Firor Scott, "On Seeing and Not Seeing: A Case of Historical Invisibility," Journal of American History, 71 (June 1984), 7–21.

5. Anne Firor Scott, "Most Invisible of All: Black Women's Voluntary Associations," Journal of Southern History, 56 (February 1990), 3–22. Among Scott's other contributions to the Journal, see Anne Firor Scott, "A Progressive Wind from the South, 1906–1913," Journal of Southern History, 29 (February 1963), 53–70; Anne Firor Scott, "After Suffrage: Southern Women in the Twenties," Journal of Southern History, 30 (August 1964), 298–318; and Anne Firor Scott, "Making the Invisible Women Visible: An Essay Review," Journal of Southern History, 38 (November 1972), 629–38.

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