Heather A. Williams

 heather williams

Geraldine R. Segal Professorship in American Social Thought, Professor of Africana Studies,

On Leave 2023-2024 Academic Year


Heather Andrea Williams is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, and Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She was previously Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Williams received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. She is the author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (2005), and Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery (2012), both published by UNC Press, as well as American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction (2014), published by Oxford University Press.




Williams has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is currently at work on two projects: a documentary film about Jamaicans who migrated to the United States in the1950s and 60s; and a book about violence in the antebellum South. She teaches courses on African American History with an emphasis on slavery and the aftermath of the American Civil War.

Research Interests
  • Nineteenth Century African American History
  • History of Slavery in the American South
  • Jamaican Migrations
  • Race in American History