Catherine Fosl

cate photo 12


Ph.D., History, Emory University, 2000

Dr. Cate Fosl is Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, and Associated with the History Department. She also is Director of the UofL Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research.

Email Cate Fosl




Selected publications:

  • Freedom on the Border:  An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, co-authored with Tracy E. K'Meyer (Lexington:  University Press of Kentucky, 2009).
  • Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South(University Press of  Kentucky, Fall 2006).
  • Women for All Seasons: The Story of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989).
  • "It Could Be Dangerous!: Gay Liberation and Gay marriage, Louisville, Kentucky, 1970," Ohio Valley History 12,1 (Spring 2012), 45-64
  • "Anne Braden, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Rigoberta Menchu:  Using Personal Narrative to Build Activist Movements, in Telling Stories to Change the World, edited by Rickie Solinger, Madeline Fox, and Kayhan Irani (New York:  Routledge, 2008).
  • The Dynamite was Fear: Segregation, Anticommunism, and Sedition in 1954 Louisville," in Making a New South: Race, Class, and Culture after the Civil War, edited by Paul Cimbala and Bart Shaw (Gainesville: University Press of  Florida, 2006)
  • When Subjects Talk Back:  Writing Anne Braden's Life-in-Progress, Oral History Review 32,2 (Summer/Fall 2005): 59-69 and commentary 85-86 [part of invited special section,  The Challenge and Promise of Producing Oral History-Based Biographies].
  • "Anne Braden and the Protective Custody of White Southern Womanhood," in Throwing Off the Cloak of Privilege: Southern White Women in the Civil Rights Era, edited by Gail Murray (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, May 2004).


Current and recent courses:

  • U.S. Social Justice Movements of the 20th Century (upper-level/graduate seminar cross-listed with Pan-African Studies, History, Social Change)
  • Race, Gender, and Social Justice Histories, U.S. - South Africa Compared (upper level/graduate seminar cross-listed with Pan-African Studies and History)
  • Women's Personal Narratives ( graduate seminar cross-listed with Humanities)


Research interests:

Trained in modern U.S. southern and women's history (PhD, Emory University Department of History, 2000), I have evolved into an interdisciplinary scholar of twentieth-century U.S. social justice movements.  I am an oral historian whose areas of concentration include women, white allies, and grassroots-level activism in the modern African American freedom movement in the US-South.

In Fall 2013, I had the opportunity to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I was a Humanities fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at University of Edinburgh. In 2005, I received the Catherine Prelinger Award of the Coordinating Committee for Women in History as a nontraditional scholar, and I was a 2005-06 sexuality fellow of the social Science Research Council (SSRC). In 2008-09, I was co-PI -- along with Professor Jennifer Gregg of the Department of Communication -- on a study of Louisville's Digital Divide and local use of new media for social networking among grassroots social justice activists. This project was funded by the SSRC's "Necessary Knowledge" program and conducted in partnership with KY Jobs with Justice. For details and synopsis of the findings, see

Over the past few years, I have devoted significant time to building community partnerships locally and to promoting engaged scholarship at the University of Louisville.

I am currently working on several research projects, including the following:

1)    Oral history interviews and archival research for a comparative study of women's activism in the U.S. racial justice and South African anti-apartheid movements, 1948-1998. My initial focus is on a small group of Jewish women activists from Cape Town who were also in the Communist Party, as related to Anne Braden and other radical women active in the African American freedom movement;

2)    An oral history-based study of the life and work of US-southern cultural activists and folk musicians Guy and Candie Carawan;

3)   Serving as lead researcher/author of the 2013-14 report, Making Louisville Home for us All: A 20-Year Action Plan for Fair Housing, in partnership with metro Louisville Human Relations Commission and Metropolitan Housing Coalition. This project, available online at, evolved from the Braden Institute's co-convening since 2010 of an interdisciplinary, campus-and-community-based reading and research group on housing as a social and racial justice issue;

4) Collecting oral histories of the intersectional politics of recent lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) rights movements in Louisville and their connections with the African American freedom movement.