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Lehigh University STEPS building at night
Joseph Williams, Assistant Professor of History at Lehigh

Joseph Williams

Assistant Professor

Room 334 - Maginnes Hall

Ph.D., Rutgers University, 2022

M.A., DePaul University, 2015

M.T.S., Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2013

B.A., Africana Studies, North Park University

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Additional Interests

  • African American History
  • 19th and 20th Century United States History
  • US Religious History
  • Women’s and Gender History
  • Black Intellectual History

Research Statement

Joseph’s research interests lie at the intersection of African American history, Black intellectual history, Black women’s history, and the history of American religious reform. He is currently at work on a monograph that examines how Black women active during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries forged an intellectual movement steeped in religious thought, and the ways in which their ideas influenced campaigns for racial and gender reform. Joseph also established and runs The Eulogy Project, a digital humanities initiative and online repository dedicated to the curation of Black memorials produced across time and space. His research has been supported and recognized by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, the Louisville Institute, and the Ford Foundation. 


Joseph joined Lehigh University in the fall of 2023 after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center at Penn State University. Prior to academia, he worked as a Program Manager at a nonprofit student support organization and as a Mental Health Professional at the largest mental health organization in Illinois.

Recent Publications: 

Williams, Joseph. Review of “White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America” by Anthea Butler (University of North Carolina Press, 2021); in Journal of African American History (Spring 2023). 

Williams, Joseph. “‘Tell It Like It Is:’ The Rise of a Race-Conscious Professoriate at Rutgers in the 1960s,” in Scarlet and Black Volume III: Making Black Lives Matter at Rutgers, 1945-2020, eds. Miya Carey, Marisa Fuentes, and Deborah Gray White (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, Press. 2021).

Williams, Joseph. “All the World’s A Classroom: The First Black Students at Rutgers College and New Brunswick Theological Seminary Encounter Racial Ideology, Missionary Impulses and the Intellectual Life of the University,” in Scarlet and Black Volume II: Constructing Race and Gender at Rutgers, eds. Kendra Boyd, Marisa Fuentes, and Deborah Gray White (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2020). 

Recent Presentations: 

2024 Panel Co-Organizer, American Historical Association (San Francisco, CA) (panel accepted)
Panel: Black Mourning and Memorials in the Struggle for Racial Equality
Paper: “Black Women’s Memorials and the Physical Toll of Black Intellectual History”

2023 Invited Panelist, National Council on Public History (Atlanta, GA)
“Not Preached by the Preacher”: The Eulogy Project, Subversive Memorials, and the Production of Black Eulogies in the Age of Black Lives Matter

2022 Commentator, Association for the Study of African American Life & History (Montgomery, AL)
“Biographies of Black Women: A Window into Health and Wellness”

2022 Panelist, African American Intellectual History Society Annual Meeting (Remote)
The Final Encomium: Black Club Women, the Making of the Deceased, and the Preservation of the Past

2021 Panelist, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (Hybrid: San Antonio, TX & Remote)
Saints and Martyrs: Tribute Politics and the Deceased in Late Nineteenth Century Black Women's Activism 


HIST 130 – African American History