Professor William Chafe

Former Dean of Arts and Sciences, Duke University


William Chafe is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University, USA. He was special guest speaker at the US Studies Centre's National Summit in 2007 and visited the Centre again in 2011.

Much of his professional scholarship reflects his long-term interest in issue of race and gender equality. For many years he has been a leader in the effort to bring interdisciplinary studies to higher education. Professor Chafe's dissertation focused on the changing social and economic roles of American women in the fifty years after the woman suffrage amendment. It was published as The American Woman (1972), and was considered a path-breaking monograph in what has become one of the most dynamic sub-disciplines in History.

Subsequent books compared the patterns of race and gender discrimination in America. His book on the origins of the sit-in movement in North Carolina helped to re-orient scholarship on civil rights toward social history and community studies. Professor Chafe has written two books on the history of post-World War II America, and a biography of the liberal crusader Allard Lowenstein. The author of eight books overall, he has received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (1981) for Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina and the Black Struggle for Freedom (1980) and the Sidney Hillman book award (1994) for Never Stop Running: Allard Lowenstein and the Struggle to Save American Liberalism (1993). His recent books include American Liberalism in the 20th Century (2003) and Private Lives/Public Consequences: Personality and Politics in Modern America (2005).

Professor Chafe is a former president of the Organization of American Historians, and served for nine years as Dean of the Faculty and Vice-Provost at Duke University. Professor Chafe has been co-director of the Duke Oral History Program, and its Center for the Study of Civil Rights and Race Relations; he is a founder and the former Academic Director of the Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women; he is also a founder and senior research associate of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

In 1988 Professor Chafe was named the Alice Mary Baldwin Distinguished Professor of History. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavior Sciences.