Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor

Associate Professor of History

Elizabeth Pryor

Contact & Office Hours

Thursday, 9–11 a.m.
And by appointment.
Accessible hours: 1st Friday of the month, 9–10 a.m. in the Campus Center

10 Prospect Street #304



Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara

M.A., Cornell University

B.A., Tufts University


Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor specializes in 19th-century U.S. history and race. Before teaching at Smith, she was a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow at the UCLA School of Law, where she studied the intersections of race, gender and citizenship before the Civil War. Pryor's specific research and teaching interests include an examination of U.S. citizenship from the early national period through the passage of the 15th Amendment. She is most fascinated by the people and themes that are least likely to appear in the “master narrative” of U.S. history. To this end, other teaching and research interests include resistance, dis/ability, gender, sexuality, historical memory, enslavement, enslaved people, indigeneity, Black activism, the birth of Jim Crow segregation and the pedagogies of teaching the "n-word" and other forms of racism in the college classroom. Her classes help students make connections between the racial disparities of the past and those of the present. She is a 2016 recipient of the Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching at Smith.

Pryor's first book, Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War, is forthcoming (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016). It is a social history of segregation on public transportation as well as the story of how black mobility has been systematically criminalized in the United States. Perhaps even more importantly, the book illuminates the work of radical Black activists who, in the early 19th century, fought against segregation, thus elevating public vehicles to the frontlines for the battle over equal rights. Her next project is an examination of African American women within and on the periphery of the abolitionist movement, especially those women who refused to conform to gendered notions of respectability as they fought for the liberation of their communities, their families and, most significantly, themselves.

Selected Publications

Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

“The Etymology of Nigger: Resistance, Language and the Politics of Freedom in the Antebellum North” in the Journal of the Early Republic, 36 (Summer 2016), pp. 203-245.