Leigh Soares

Leigh Soares


  • Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History
  • Identity: Gender, Race and Region


  • Assistant Professor


  • African American History
  • U.S. South
  • 19th and 20th Century U.S.
  • History of Education




  • 214A Allen Hall

Ph.D., History, Northwestern University, 2019
M.A., History, The College of William and Mary, 2012
A.B., History, Duke University, 2010

Assistant Professor of History, Mississippi State University, 2019-

Africana Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow for the Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University (2019-2020)


Peer-Reviewed Publications

“‘Tuskegee is Her Monument’: Olivia Davidson and the Decline of Black Women’s Leadership in Public Higher Education, 1870-1910” (under review)

Public Scholarship

“Reconstruction-Era Politics Shaped Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Process (Organization of American Historians), February 19, 2018, www.processhistory.org/soares-reconstruction-hbcus/


Invited Presentations

“Progressive Era Reform and the Black Campus,” Food for Thought Series, Africana Research Center, Penn State University, University Park, PA, March 2020

“‘To Manage Our Own Seminary of Learning’: Black Leadership and Negotiations for Public Higher Education in the South, 1875-1900,” Emerging Scholar Speaker Series, Africana Research Center, Penn State University, January 2019

Conference Presentations

Panel organizer, “Negotiating Emancipation in the Reconstruction South,” OAH Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2021

“Anchors of Reform: Public Black Colleges and Educational Activism, 1880-1920,” AERA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 2020 [conference canceled]

“Ruling the Rural Fountain of Knowledge: Public Black Colleges, Gender, and Leadership in the Post-Civil War South,” Southern Association for Women Historians Triennial Conference, June 2018

“The Limits of Federal Support for Black Higher Education,” National Academy of Education/Spencer Fellows Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2018

“‘We Are Their Intellectual Equals’: Black Education During Virginia’s Readjuster Movement, 1880-1884,” History of Education Society Annual Meeting, November 2017

“Professionalized and Pushed Aside: Women’s Narrowing Leadership at Public Black Colleges, 1870-1910,” Graduate Research Conference, Northwestern Black Graduate Student Association, March 2017

Finalist, C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize in Southern History (2020)
• Postdoctoral Fellowship, George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, Penn State University (2019-2020)
• National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship (2017-2018)
• AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research, 2017 [declined]
• Graduate Research Grant, The Graduate School, Northwestern University (2015)
• History Department Research Grant, Northwestern University (2014)
• Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship, Duke University (2006-2010)

American Historical Association
Southern Historical Association
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
History of Education Society