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PhD: History

Thesis Title: Motherhood and Manhood: Gender in the White Citizens Councils

Thesis Description:

The White Citizens’ Councils began to form in the United States after the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court ruling, which declared legislation mandating racially-segregated public schools to be unconstitutional. The Councils sought to maintain segregation and uphold the advantages that whiteness afforded.

My research seeks to uncover, first, the gendered role of men and masculinity in the Councils, their public meetings, and their activities. Second, the role of women in the Councils. Though the popular memory of the segregationist movement centres around men, women did play roles in the Councils, and their activity raises interesting issues about femininity and constructions of Southern womanhood and its role in influencing politics. Third, the role of gender in the Councils’ propaganda and ideology. Womanhood and the defence of female purity featured prominently in Council propaganda and appeared both explicitly and implicitly in Council rationale for continuing segregation. Racialised and gendered stereotypes were regularly invoked against African Americans, activists, and white integrationists. The role of masculinity in Council propaganda and ideology is also vital for understanding the groups. Finally, the research will examine how issues of gender were used by opponents of the Councils – including Civil Rights activists and groups of integrationist white women – to form a counter-discourse in their propaganda and public spectacle. My research expands analysis of the Councils from the usual range of the 1950s and 1960s into the late 1970s, thus tracing the development of the Councils over a longer duration.

Tracing the issue of gender in the Councils reveals both how it played a central role in the segregationist movement, but also how it adapted over time, evidencing its contemporary relevance for contextualising and understanding present-day racism and racial politics.


Supervisors and Institutions



  • 'Motherhood and Manhood: Gender in the White Citizens' Councils', poster presented at the M3C Research Festival, May 2017.
  • '"Without Hoods": The Aesthetics of Segregationists' - University of Leicester History, Politics and International Relations conference, May 2017.
  • ' "White Men Built the United States for You": Race and Gender in The Citizen Magazine' - East Midlands History Network Conference, University of Lincoln, January 2017.



  • 'Tyranny, Traitors, and Whiteness: the Use of Shame by the White Citizens’ Councils'. Presented at the UCL JFIGs conference on Shame, March 2015.





  • ‘Saving a Nation: Roosevelt's Fireside Chats’, History is Now Magazine, August 2014. In this article I explored Franklin Roosevelt's radio public communications both before and during the Second World War.

Public Engagement:

  • Project Facilitator - Journey to Justice: Nottingham. Prepared and led sessions teaching a group of teenagers about the US Civil Rights Movement at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

Professional memberships:

  • Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS)
  • British Association for American Studies (BAAS)
  • Social History Society

Other Research Interests:

  • Whiteness and white backlash politics
  • The US South and Southern identity
  • American Conservatism
  • Richard Nixon

University email address:

Twitter: @bradleyphipps

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