PhD, University of Virginia
MA, University of Virginia
BA, University of Kentucky
Melissa Estes Blair’s research focuses on women and politics in the United State in the twentieth century. Her first book, Revolutionizing Expectations: Women’s Organizations, Feminism, and American Politics 1965-1980 (University of Georgia Press, 2014) examines the role of mainstream women’s organizations such as the YWCA and League of Women Voters in the women’s movement of the 1970s. Her second book, Bringing Home the White House: The Hidden History of the Women who Shaped the Presidency, 1932-1960, will be released by University of Georgia Press in 2023. It explores the work and lives of five women who directed the Women’s Division of the Democratic and Republican National Committees from 1932 until 1960, and argues that these women were critical to national politics in this era. They actively worked to politicize the home and make women the grassroots troops of both parties. With the support of some of the most powerful politicians of the era, they made women the “saleswomen for the party” and helped swing elections throughout the midcentury. A portion of that research appeared in Suffrage at 100: Women’s Uneven Road in American Politics since 1920 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020).She is also the co-author, with Maeve Kane and Vanessa Holden, of a new women’s history textbook, American Women: A New Narrative History, which will be published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2023. Her research has been supported by the Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy Presidential Libraries, Auburn’s Office of Research & Economic Development, the Doris G. Quinn Foundation, the Charles Redd Center for Western History at BYU, and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University.
Blair teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in U.S. women’s history, as well as undergraduate courses on twentieth-century grassroots politics and the senior thesis course for history majors. She supervises graduate students working on U.S women’s history in any time period, and serves on graduate committees for a variety of twentieth-century U.S. and Southern history topics. Graduate students working with Blair have, in the past two years, had their work supported by the Five Colleges Consortium, the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, and the Adams Center for Military History & Strategic Analysis at the Virginia Military Institute. Prior to joining the Auburn faculty in 2015, she taught for six years at Warren Wilson College, a small liberal arts college in North Carolina.
U.S. women and gender; 20th-century U.S. politics; history of feminism