Mary-Elizabeth Murphy

A photo of Mary-Elizabeth Murphy

Associate Professor and Chair of the History Section

History & Philosophy; department member, Women's and Gender Studies

701S Pray Harrold


[email protected]


  • PhD, University of Maryland, 2012.
  • BA, Mount Holyoke College, 2004.

Interests and Expertise

Mary-Elizabeth Murphy is an Associate Professor of History and Department Member in Women’s & Gender Studies at Eastern Michigan University. She joined the department in 2013, having previously taught for two years at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her research specialties include African American History, U.S. Women’s History, and U.S. Social and Political History. Her first book, Jim Crow Capital: Women and Black Freedom Struggles in Washington, D.C., 1920-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), examined the ways that working-class and middle-class black women in the nation’s capital waged an early civil rights movement focused on economic justice, legal equality, and safety from violence. Her current book project is a social history of interstate buses and racial politics, examining the hundreds of African Americans who rode buses in the era of the Great Migration and contested the color line through everyday resistance, newspaper exposes, and lawsuits before the landmark Supreme Court ruling, Morgan v. Virginia. Murphy teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate courses at Eastern Michigan University in U.S. Women’s History, the history of Sexuality, and research methods and methodologies.


  • HIST 115 What is an American?
  • HIST 123 The United States to 1877
  • HIST 124 The United States, 1877 to the Present
  • HIST 300W Researching and Writing History
  • HIST 315 History of Black Americans
  • HIST 325 History of Sexuality
  • HIST 336 History of Women in the United States Since 1865
  • HIST 337 Women in North America to 1865
  • HIST 362 United States Urban History
  • HIST/WGST 591/592 Women, Gender, & Sexualities in US History

Publications and Presentations


Work in Progress

  • Before the Freedom Riders: African Americans, Bus Companies, and Black Protest Politics in the Great Migration, 1920-1946 (book manuscript in progress).


  • “‘The Servant Campaigns’: African American Women and the Politics of Economic Citizenship in Washington, D.C. in the 1930s,” Special Issue, Journal of Urban History, “African American Urban Politics in the Age of Jim Crow,” edited by Lisa G. Materson and Joe William Trotter, Jr., March 2018. Winner of the Honorable Mention, Letitia Woods Brown Prize for best article in Black Women’s History, Association of Black Women Historians, 2018.
  • Olwell, Russell, Mary-Elizabeth Murphy and Pierre Rice, "'It Changes Your Life': The Value of Field Trips in African-American History for High-School Students in an Out-of-School Program," Teaching History, Spring 2016, 40-43.

Blog Posts & Encyclopedia Entries

  • “African Americans, the Depression, and the New Deal,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • “National Council of Negro Women,” Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnicity in America: From Pre-Contact to Present. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2019.
  • “National Domestic Workers Union,” Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnicity in America: From Pre-Contact to Present. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2019.
  • “In Politics to Stay: The View From History”: UNC Press Blog, 2018.
  • “Supreme Court Matters”: UNC Press Blog, 2018.
  • “Carrie Williams Clifford,” in “Black Women Suffragists, 1917,” Women and Social Movements in the United States, 2016.

Book Reviews

  • Review of Amanda Huron, Carving Out the Commons: Tenant Organizing and Housing Cooperatives in Washington, D.C., in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, 2020.
  • Review of Elizabeth A. Herbin-Triant, Threatening Property: Race, Class, and Campaigns to Legislate Jim Crow Neighborhoods, Urban History Journal, Winter 2020.
  • Review of Treva Lindsey, Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C., in Washington History, Winter 2018.Review of Ted Ownby, Hurtin’ Words: Debating Family Problems in the Twentieth-Century South, Journal of Southern History, Fall 2019.
  • Review of Anke Ortlepp, Jim Crow Terminals: The Desegregation of American Airports, H-Net, 2019 [PDF].
  • Review of Frederick W. Gooding, Jr., American Dream Deferred: Black Federal Workers in Washington, D.C., 1941-1981, Journal of African American History, 2019.
  • Review of Stephen M. Ward’s In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James & Grace Lee Boggs in Michigan Historical Review, Summer 2017.
  • “War Veterans as Central Actors in New Deal Politics,” review of Stephen Ortiz, Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill: How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era, H-Net, 2011.