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Shannen Dee Williams

Associate Professor of History

Full-Time Faculty

College of Arts and Sciences: History


Email: Shannen Williams
Phone: 937-229-2848


  • She/Her/Hers


Dr. Shannen Dee Williams is Associate Professor of History at the University of Dayton. A historian of the African American experience with research and teaching specializations in women’s, religious and Black freedom movement history, Williams is the author of Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle, which was published by Duke University Press in May 2022. Subversive Habits was named a top five book published in religion by Publishers' Weekly in 2022. It also received the 2022 Letitia Woods Brown Award for Best Book in African American Women's History from the Association of Black Women Historians and the 2023 Wesley-Logan Prize for Outstanding Book in African Diaspora History from the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Dr. Williams’s research been supported by a host of fellowships, grants and awards, including a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Fellowship in Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association and the John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association. Her work has been published in the Journal of African American HistoryAmerican Catholic Studies, the Washington PostAmerica MagazineUS Catholic, and the National Catholic Reporter.

A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and the first Black woman elected to the Executive Council of the American Catholic Historical Association, Dr. Williams authored the award-winning column, “The Griot’s Cross,” published by the Catholic News Service from 2020 to 2022. Dr. Williams is a co-founder the Fleming-Morrow Endowment in African American History at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In 2020, she also submitted successful proposals to establish the Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic History at Villanova University and the Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. Prize through the American Catholic Historical Association and the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.

Selected publications

Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle (Duke University Press, May 2022)