In Memoriam: Julie Saville, 1947-2023

Julie Saville, an associate professor emerita in the department of history at the University of Chicago, died on December 16. She was 76 years old.

Saville spent her early childhood in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, during the Jim Crow years before her family was forced by violence to move to Memphis, Tennessee. She went on to do her undergraduate work at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachuetts, where she chose to devote her study to history. Dr. Saville received her Ph.D. at Yale University in 1986 and held appointments at the University of Maryland and the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Saville was hired to the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1994, joining the founding generation of scholars of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. She was a scholar of slavery, emancipation, and plantation societies in the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is best know for the book The Work of Reconstruction: From Slave to Wage Laborer in South Carolina, 1860-l870 (Cambridge Univrsity Press, 1994).

Thomas C. Holt, emeritus professor in the department of history at the University of Chicago, stated that “after reading Saville’s Work of Reconstruction, no one could credibly write about labor processes and political processes in quite the same way again — at least not and still be taken seriously.”

Professor Holt added that “all of us emerged better historians, with a better understand of the complexities of the human behavior from having known her.”

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