Ellen Griffith Spears

Associate Professor

  • Joint appointment with New College


Faculty Hours


Office Hours:  1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and by appointment

Faculty Research


Nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. environmental and civil rights history; competing scientific, medical and legal claims in environmental public health; ethnographic and oral documentary studies of race, class, gender, and place in the U.S. South.  

Faculty Publications


Books Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014, http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/T-8728.html, winner of the 2014 Arthur J. Viseltear Prize in public health history, given by the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association. The Newtown Story: One Community’s Fight for Environmental Justice, photographs by Michael Schwarz, Atlanta: Center for Democratic Renewal, 1998, a collaborative oral documentary project. Journal Articles “‘Rights Still Being Righted’: Scottsboro Eighty Years Later,” Southern Spaces, June 2011. “Memorializing the Freedom Riders,” Southern Spaces, July 2009. Book Chapters “The Scottsboro Boys Museum: University-Community Collaboration Yields Unanticipated Results,” with Shelia Washington, in Interpreting African American History and Culture at Historic Sites and House Museums, ed. Max van Balgooy, Boston: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. “Reducing Environmental Burdens: A Southern Agenda,” in American Crisis: Southern Solutions, ed., Anthony Dunbar, Montgomery: New South Books, 2008, 200-211. “Civil Rights, Immigration, and the Prospects for Social Justice Collaboration,” in The American South in a Global World, eds. James L. Peacock, Harry L. Watson, Carrie R. Matthews, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005, 235-243. “Making Illnesses Visible: The Newtown Florist Club and the Quest for Environmental Justice in Gainesville, Georgia,” in Emerging Illnesses and Society: Negotiating the Public Health Agenda, eds. Randall M. Packard, Peter J. Brown, Ruth L. Berkelman,  Howard Frumkin, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, 171-190.