In Her Own Words
I love history — I always have. Too many students come to our history program thinking that history is just memorizing dates and events. I think history is a subject that encourages students to challenge ideas and explore new possibilities.
Young college students often have no sense of their place in history. As a teacher and a historian, I want to introduce my students to the rich and complex story of the human past. Historians are really academic detectives who solve mysteries about the past.
And history is incomplete—we will never know everything about the past. Therefore, there are no 'right' answers — only interpretations that must be supported with evidence. So historians are also prosecutors, who must convince the jury of other historians and the public that their interpretation is correct.
I'm married (for 46 years) to Dr. Jim Alexander, and we have two daughters, Lauren and Elizabeth, and four grandchildren.
As part of my love of history, Jim and I travel as much as we can. For the last two summers, we have visited national parks in the western states — Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Death Valley and the Badlands! We are also often in Washington D.C. (our youngest daughter, her husband, and our newest grandson live there), and enjoy exploring the history of that district.
Two years ago, one of my students did a paper on an attempt by D.C. slaves to escape on a merchant ship, the Pearl. This was news to me (not unusual!), and Jim and I went hunting on the Alexandria waterfront for the monument to that escape. I couldn't believe in all our visits to D.C. that we had never seen it.
I've been teaching at Texas Wesleyan for 19 years, and 2015-1016 was my last year of full-time teaching. The idea of retiring is both exciting and sad, but I will remain as an adjunct professor, teaching online courses for the program. I am so proud of the students I have taught who have moved out into the community and who represent their alma mater so well.
- A.B. Vanderbilt University
- M.A.T. Vanderbilt University
- M.A. History, Texas Christian University
- Ph.D. History, Texas Christian University
In addition to teaching, I enjoy the other half of the historian's work—research. My first book, Notorious Woman: The Celebrated Case of Myra Clark Gaines was selected by its publisher, Louisiana State University Press, as its nominee for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.
Notorious Woman was chosen as the 2001 recipient of the Langum Prize for Historical Literature, a prize given annually to the historical work published by a university press judged most appealing to the "general educated public" as well as to professional historians. The Southern Association for Women Historians also chose Notorious Woman as the 2002 recipient of the Willie Lee Rose Prize for the Best Book in Southern History authored by a Woman.
Recently, Dr. Brenda Matthews and I have completed a history of Texas Wesleyan University in honor of the University's 125th anniversary. This coffee-table style book should be available this fall by Christmas.