Assistant Professor of Education, Washington University in St. Louis
Michelle A. Purdy is an assistant professor of education in arts and sciences. Purdy’s research and teaching interests include the history of United States education; the history of African American education; the history of school desegregation; the history of elite K-12 private schools; social foundations of education; and race, culture, and equity in education. She is currently teaching “The American School” and “History of Education in the United States.”
She is the author of Transforming the Elite: Black Students and the Desegregation of Private Schools, which examines the interplay of politics and race in historically White elite private schools in the mid-twentieth century. Utilizing the desegregation history of a southern elite private school, her book focuses on the experiences of the first Black alumni and why elite private school leaders chose to desegregate their schools in the mid-twentieth century when they were not legally obligated to do so. It was awarded the 2019 New Scholar’s Book award from Division F (History and Historiography) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the 2019 award for Excellence from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC). Dr. Purdy has also been recognized as the Outstanding Faculty Mentor from the Graduate Student Senate at Washington University in St. Louis and a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow.