Alabama lost one of its most distinguished historians with the death of Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton. NewSouth Books was proud to have published the final memoir of this pioneering journalist and educator, Teddy’s Child: Growing Up in the Anxious Southern Gentry Between the Great Wars. Dr. Hamilton’s life was as colorful and inspiring as any history she taught. Distinguished historian Leah Rawls Atkins remembered the influential professor in a piece for Alabama NewsCenter, calling Dr. Hamilton one of the “finest teachers and role models for young women interested in studying history.”
Dr. Atkins lists the remarkable details of Hamilton’s career: Associated Press correspondent in Washington, D.C. during World War II, Birmingham News reporter, history professor at Birmingham-Southern, the University of Montevallo, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Alabama, author of numerous books of history and memoir. She focuses on Hamilton’s legacy as a pioneer — the second woman to earn a PhD in history from the University of Alabama — and a historian who presented a unique take on Alabama history in her innovative text Alabama: A History, which recounts the stories of sociological groups who most impacted the state.
Dr. Atkins notes: “Hamilton changed the way history was taught in Alabama. . . . She advocated for the equality of women in history, and capped her career directing a departmental faculty at UAB that was roughly half male and half female — more closely matching the true ratio of men and women in the population. Young women in Alabama in 2016 may not realize who influenced the greater professional equality they now enjoy. Virginia Van deer Hamilton played a large role in that history.”
A fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. We mourn her passing but celebrate her legacy.
Teddy’s Child is available from NewSouth Books.