Project Co-Director:

Elizabeth R. Varon,
Temple University

Elizabeth R. Varon earned her B.A. in history at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Her award-winning Ph.D. thesis at Yale on elite Southern women's involvement in antebellum politics formed the basis of her first book, We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 1998). Her second book is a biography of a pioneering female spy, politician, and civil rights crusader, and reflects Varon's ongoing commitment to integrating social history with political and military history. Entitled Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (Oxford, 2003), the book has won three awards: the Richard Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginia Biography from the Virginia Historical Society; the People's Choice Award for Nonfiction sponsored by the James River Writers Festival and the Library of Virginia; and the prestigious Lillian Smith Award of the Southern Regional Council, given in Smith's honor to "books that generate universal human understanding." Varon is currently finishing a study of the origins of the Civil War, provisionally entitled On the Precipice: The Discourse of Disunion and the Coming of the Civil War, under contract with University of North Carolina Press. Varon is Professor of History at Temple University in Philadelphia. She joined the Temple faculty in 2004 after ten years on the faculty at Wellesley College, where she had the pleasure of supervising many excellent undergraduate honors theses.