Historian and painter Nell Irvin Painter delivered the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture at the 2022 ACLS Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Friday, April 29.

Nell Irvin Painter, the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University, is a historian of the United States, an artist, and a visual artist. In addition to her earned doctorate in history from Harvard University, she has received several honorary doctorates, including from Wesleyan, Dartmouth, SUNY-New Paltz, and Yale.  She earned a BFA degree from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers-the State University of New Jersey in May 2009 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, both in painting.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Nell Painter has also held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Antiquarian Society. She has served as president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. Those presidential addresses have been published in the Journal of American History (“Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Saxons” in March 2009) and the Journal of Southern History (“Was Marie White?” February 2008). The City of Boston declared Thursday, October 4, 2007, Nell Irvin Painter Day in honor of her Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center in 2006.

A prolific and best-selling scholar, her most recent books are her art school memoir Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (2018), and The History of White People (2010), Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present (2006), and Southern History Across the Color Line (University of North Carolina Press, 2002 and 2021). A second edition of Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919 and a Korean translation of Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol appeared in 2008. She is currently working on 50 years of her collected essays, I Just Keep Talking, to appear in 2023.

As a public intellectual, Professor Painter contributes to The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Guardian, and other periodicals. 

Named for the first chairman of ACLS (1920-26), the Haskins Prize Lecture series is entitled “A Life of Learning” and celebrates scholarly careers of distinctive importance. The lectures are published each year as part of the ACLS Occasional Paper series.