Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University, is the author of scholarly books of history including the New York Times bestseller The History of White People; Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol an awardee of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; and the National Critics Circle finalist Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2007, she has received honorary degrees from institutions such as Yale, Wesleyan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Dartmouth and has served as president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. After a Ph.D. in history from Harvard, she earned degrees in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and the Rhode Island School of Design. Nell Painter lives and works in East Orange, New Jersey, and the Adirondacks. When not writing essays and drawing self-portraits, she makes artist’s books that visualize people and history, often in residencies such as MacDowell, Yaddo, Ucross, and Bogliasco. She currently serves as Madame Chairman of MacDowell. In early 2024 Doubleday will publish a collection of her essays entitled I Just Keep Talking. She is working on a new book on Sojourner Truth, entitled Sojourner Truth Was a New Yorker, and She Didn’t Say That. Painter held a Peterson Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 1991 allowing her to conduct research for her fourth book Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol (1996). She was elected to membership in the Society in 1987 and served as a Councillor from 1995-1998.

East Orange, NJ
United States

Elected to AAS
October 1987


Books Based on Fellowship Research

W. W. Norton & Company, 1996