Crystal Feimster

Crystal Feimster's picture
Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies and the American Studies Program
Rm 403--81 Wall St., New Haven, CT 06511
Ph.D., Princeton University, 2000


Crystal N. Feimster, a native of North Carolina, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of African American Studies and History and the Programs of American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She earned her Ph. D. in History from Princeton University and her BA in History and Women’s Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.  Feimster has also taught at Boston College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Princeton.  She teaches a range of courses in 19th and 20th century African American history, women’s history, and southern history. “The Long Civil Rights Movement” and “Critical Race Theory” are her most popular undergraduate courses at Yale. Feimster has received numerous teaching and mentoring awards and is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer.  She has been a faculty fellow at the American Academy of Art Science in Cambridge, MA, the Dubois Institute at Harvard, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Feimster is the author of Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching (Harvard, 2009), a history of how black and white women in the US South were affected by and responded to the problems of rape and lynching in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Southern Horrors won the North East Black Studies Association 2010 W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize and received Honorable Mention for the Organization of American Historians’ 2010 Darlene Clark Hine Award.  Feimster has published peer-reviewed essays in The Journal of American History and Daedalus, has co-edited a special issue of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era on Centennial Anniversary of Woman’s Suffrage, and has written numerous book chapters and encyclopedia entries. Her essay “Keeping a Disorderly House in Civil War Kentucky,” in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society was awarded the Kentucky Historical Society Collins Award for best article in 2019. Feimster has also published in the New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Slate and has advised and appeared in several documentaries, such as The Rape of Recy Taylor. 

Feimster is currently completing Truth Be Told: The Battle for Freedom in Civil War Era Louisiana (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), a case study that centers Louisiana as part of a formative moment in the emergence of new ideas about freedom and citizenship in America.  She is  also working on a manuscript titled, Beauty and Booty: The History of Civil War Rape.

Featured News:

“Crystal Feimster featured in inaugural Yale Talk podcast with President Salovey,” January 20, 2020

“Angela Davis speaks at Yale’s Dr. King Day observance,” January 17, 2020

“The First Feminist President,” The Chronicle Review, September 25, 2016

Convener: Teach In “Ferguson and Beyond: Race, Policing and Social Justice” March 31, 2015. Yale University.

Interview:  “The Lower Frequencies Podcast: Episode 4” with Nicholas Forster, African American Studies/Film and Media Studies graduate student at Yale.

2013-2014 Yale Provost Prize for Teaching acknowledges annually the teaching excellence of 10 members of Yale’s untenured faculty each year. Nominations from deans and department chairs, as well as information from student evaluations, are considered in determining honorees. 

2013 Poorvu Prize Honoree: The Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching was established to recognize and enhance Yale’s strength in interdisciplinary teaching. It provides the means for distinguished junior faculty in interdisciplinary fields to conduct essential summer research.

“Q&A: A fresh look at rape during the Civil War.” Crystal Feimster is interviewed by journalist Kery K. Paterson for the blog, “Women Under Siege.”  Thursday, May 9, 2013.…

“Rape and Justice in the Civil War,” New York Times, “Opinionator” column by Crystal Feimster. Friday, April 26, 2013.

Crystal Feimster comments in this video interview: “Gauging Happiness in Smaller Majors, ” by Catherine Wang and Clinton Wang. Yale Daily News, Friday, March 8, 2013.

In a radio interview, Crystal Feimster explains laws protecting women victims of sexual violence during the Civil War: “Sew Up Your Petticoats” a segment on the episode, “Rules of Engagement: Ethics in Warfare” [29:59 - 33:23]. BackStory with the American History Guys Published Friday, 2/1/2013. (Updated Mar. 4, 2013).

Crystal Feimster comments on the film, “The Central Park Five” (2012), a documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon.

Crystal Feimster to deliver SAWH’s annual address, “Indecent and Obscene”: White Officers, Black Women, and Rape in the “Contraband Quarters of the American Civil War,” on Saturday, November 3, 5pm, during the Southern Historical Association’s 78th Annual Meetings. Updated Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 1:01pm.

FASAAS African American Studies