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Dr. Debra A Reid

Dr. Debra A Reid


Office: 2572 - Coleman Hall
Fax: 217-581-7233
Email: dareid@eiu.edu

Debra Reid's Vita


Office Hours: Mon: 3:30-4:30; Tues: Noon-1:00; Wed: Noon-2:00; Thurs Noon-2:00; and by appointment


Frequently Taught Courses

HIS 3801: Rural History
HIS 3810: History of Illinois
HIS 5090: Care and Management of Historical Artifacts
HIS 5360: Material Life in America, 1600-Present
WST 2309G: Women, Men and Culture

Part of the team that launched the Rural Studies minor at EIU, designed to offer students added perspective on the history of and issues in rural settings.


Ph.D. History, Texas A&M University
M.A. History, Baylor University
M.A. Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies, State University of New York at Oneonta
B.S Historic Preservation, Southeast Missouri State University


Professional Organizations

Dr. Reid serves as president of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums and co-treasurer of the Rural Women’s Studies Association. She speaks regularly at regional and national meetings of the Agricultural History Society, the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, the Midwest Open Air Museums Coordinating Council, and is the first vice president and executive committee member of the International Association of Agricultural Museums.

Speakers Bureau

For more information, please visit the Speakers Bureau Webpage.

I could speak to several topics that relate to rural and farm history in the Midwest, specifically Illinois, and the South. Most of my research focuses on experiences of  racial and ethnic minorities, which prepares me to discuss diversity historically. I can also discuss museum history and the role the public plays in selectively preserving and memorializing the past.


Dr. Reid's research interests focus on rural and minority history and living history farm and open air museum history and interpretation. She has published on such wide-ranging topics as interpreting gender in historic house museums, women's work in canning centers in Texas, and the family-based agricultural practices of Anabaptists in central Illinois.

Selected Publications

Current projects include a book-length manuscript on interpreting agricultural history in museums and historic sites for the American Association for State and Local History (under contract with Rowman & Littlefield), and essays under review including "Race" for Rural History (edited by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, under contract with Routledge) and "Mary L. Ray (1880?-1934): Arkansas Negro Extension Worker," for the anthology, Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times (edited by Cherisse Jones-Branch and Gary Edwards for a series published by University of Georgia Press).

Dr. Reid's dissertation, “Reaping a Greater Harvest: African Americans, Agrarian Reform, and the Texas Agricultural Extension Service,” received the Agricultural History Society’s Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award (2001) and her first book,Reaping a Greater Harvest: African Americans, the Extension Service and Rural Reform in Jim Crow Texas (2007), received the T. R. Fehrenbach Award from the Texas Historical Commission. She has edited a collection of essays, Seeking Inalienable Rights: Texans and Their Quests for Justice (2009), and has co-edited Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule: African American Farm Owners Since Reconstruction with Evan P. Bennett (University Press of Florida, 2012). She contributed essays on Illinois agricultural history to Illinois Historic Farms, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (Acclaim Press, 2015).

Selected articles include "People's Colleges for Other Citizens: Black Land-Grant Institutions and the Politics of Educational Expansion in the Post–Civil-War Era," in Science as Service: Establishing and Reformulating American Land-Grant Universities, 1865–1930, edited by Alan I Marcus (University of Alabama Press, 2015); "Searching for Egalitarianism in Citizenship Education," Phi Kappa Phi Forum 94, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 9-11; “’The Whitest of Occupations’: African Americans in the Rural Midwest since World War II,” in The Rural Midwest Since World War II, edited by J. L. Anderson (Northern Illinois University Press, 2013): 205-254; “Tangible Agricultural History: An Artifact’s-Eye View of the Field,” Agricultural History 86, no. 3 (Summer 2012), 57-76; "Furniture Exempt From Seizure: African-American Farm Families and Their Property in Texas, 1880s-1930s," Agricultural History 80, no. 3 (Summer 2006), 336-357; and "Making Gender Matter: Reinterpreting Male and Female Roles in Historic House Museums," in Interpreting Historic House Museums, edited by Jessica Foy Donnelly (AltaMira Press, 2002), 81-110.

Selected Conference Presentations

Selected Recent Presentations:
“Race,” part of a panel on Recent Research in Rural History,” Rural History 2015, Girona, Spain, September 2015
Panel Participant, “American Land Reform: Reconsidering Land Ownership in the African AmericanExperience,” American Historical Association, January 2014.
“Where have all the Farmers Gone? Gone to Living History’s Greener Fields,” Rural History 2013, Bern, Switzerland, August 19-22, 2013.
“Canned Corn,” Food in History: The 82nd Anglo-American Conference of Historians, Institute of Historical Research, London, England, July 11-12, 2013.
“Planter Attitudes toward Agricultural Laborers, 1857-1870: Evidence from James Gatliff Fanning’s Journal, Gonzales County, Texas,” 2013 Annual Charles L. Wood Agricultural History Lecture, sponsored by the Texas Tech College of Agriculture, the departments of History and of Environmental Studies, and the Southwest Collection, Lubbock, Texas, February 15, 2013.
“Black Populists and Land Grant Colleges: The Politics of Educational Expansion in the Post-Civil War South,” Morrill Land Grant 150th Anniversary Conference, Mississippi State University, October 4-6, 2012.
“The National Federation of Colored Farmers: Constructing Self-Segregated Networks during the 1930s,” Rural History 2010, Brighton, England, September 13-16, 2010.

Funding & Grants

Selected Grants Received:
Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation, Belgium field school Summer 2015
Lambda State Special Study Stipend, Delta Kappa Gamma International, awarded 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2007
EIU Presidential Fund for Research and Creative Activity, 2013, in partnership with Dr. Bailey K. Young, to fund a multi-year project (requiring outside funding) for the research project: “Walhain: Landscape of Domination.  The Origins and Transformations of a Medieval Lordship."
Lucile Cornetet Award for Professional Development, The Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation, 2010
Council on Faculty Research Grant, Eastern Illinois University, FY 2008-2009, Summer 2006; 2000-2001
Illinois Humanities Council, Mini Grant to fund “Fa-Sol-La: Shape Note and Other Music Traditions as Community Memory,” with the Lincoln Log Cabin Volunteer Pioneers, 2005;  “Citizen Gregg: A Retrospective on Gregg Toland (1904-1948), with the Coles County Historical Society, 2004
Illinois Association of Museums Museum Grant Program for Exhibit and Educational Programs 2004.


Board, Coles County Historical Society
President, Gamma chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of women educators serving women educators.

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