Phyllis Leffler

Professor Emerita

Field & Specialties

Public History
History of U.Va
Oral history


B.A., Queens College of the City University of New York, 1966
M.A., The University of Sussex, England, 1967
Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1971


Publications, Awards, and Activities

Black Leaders on Leadership:  Conversations with Julian Bond -- Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014

“Black Families and Fostering of Leadership,” Ethnicities , Vol. 11, Issue 2 (June 2011)-with Hephzibah Strimic Pawl

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Vol. 17 [Education].  Entries on  “Virginia, University of,” and “Alderman, Edwin A.” ; University of North  Carolina Press, Spring 2011.

 Exhibit Review, Montpelier, Journal of American History (December 2010, Vol. 97,  issue #3, 740-746.

  “American Memory on the Abolition of the Slave Trade:  Is There  Common Ground in American Museums?” in Museum History Journal, Vol. 3, Number 1 (January 2010), 33-60.

Phyllis K. Leffler, “Mr. Jefferson’s University:  Women in the Village!,”  Virginia                                     Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 115, No. 1 (2007), 56-107.  (Received                                    William M. E. Rachel award for best essay of 2007)

 Phyllis K. Leffler, “Maritime Museums and Transatlantic Slavery:  A Study in British                                     and American Identity,” Journal for Transatlantic Studies , Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring,                                    2006), 55-80.

Phyllis K. Leffler, “Peopling the Portholes:  National Identity and Maritime Museums in                          the U.S. and U.K.,” The Public Historian, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Fall 2004), 23-48.  (Received G. Wesley Johnson award for best essay of 2004)

"Women and Southern Tradition at the Univeristy of Virginia," Iris 41 (Fall, 2000), 14-19.

Phyllis K. Leffler, Jeffrey Hantman, Carol Ely: "To Seek the Peace of the City: Jewish Life in Charlottesville," An Exhibit (1994): Albemarle County Historical Society.

Phyllis K. Leffler, Jeffrey Hantman, Carol Ely. "Jewish Life at Mr. Jefferson's University," An Exhibit (1993): University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Phyllis K. Leffler and Joseph Brent, eds., Public History Readings. Krieger Publishers, 1992.

"History and Fiction: A Seventeenth-Century Point of View," co- authored with Elizabeth Tilton, Continuum, 1991.

Phyllis K. Leffler and Joseph Brent, Academic and Public History: A Paradigm and Philosophy. Krieger Publishers, 1990.

"French Historians and the Challenge to Louis XIV's Absolutism," French Historical Studies, XIV, No. 1 (Spring 1985), 1-22.

"From Humanist to Enlightenment Historiography: A Case Study of Francois Eudes de Mezeray," French Historical Studies, X, No. 3 (Spring 1978), 416-438.

"The 'Histoire Raisonnee,'1660-1720: A Pre-Enlightenment Genre," The Journal of the History of Ideas, XXXVII, No. 2 (April-June 1976), 219-240.

Representative Professional Activities

Public Lectures (Representative)


“Art and History:  Is There Common Ground?”, presented at the Organization of American                       Historians convention panel on Transatlantic Slavery, Culture and National Identity,                                 March 2009, Seattle, Washington.

“Black History and American History:  Is There Common Ground,”  presentation with Julian                    Bond for session at National Council on Public History Annual Conference, April 2007,                           Sante Fe, New Mexico. 

“Shaping the Community’s Consciousness in the American South,” Jewish Studies Association               National Conference, Chicago, Illinois, December 18, 2004.

“Explorations in Black Leadership:  A Digital Video Project,” joint presentation with Julian Bond,          International Leadership Association Conference, Washington, D.C., November 8, 2004.

Black Leadership and The Meaning of Brown v. Board of Education,” joint presentation with Julian Bond, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Pittsburgh,Pa:  October 1, 2004

“Maritime Museums and Transatlantic Slavery,” Transatlantic Studies Conference, Dundee, Scotland, July 12, 2004

"Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: History, Memory and Civic Culture," March 1999, Monticello

"Thomas Jefferson's Reputation," Alumni Reunions '99 (June 5, 1999), The University of Virginia

"U.Va. in the 19th Century," July 17, 1998 -- presentation to the Association of Little Big Horn, Charlottesville, Va.

"Women Students at the University of Virginia: 1920-1972," Alumni Reuinion 98, The University of Virginia (June 6, 1998)

"Women at the University of Virginia," The Colonnades, October 2, 1997

"The Value of Place", Bayly Art Museum symposium. Introductory remarks and moderator, September 13, 1997.

"The University of Virginia and its Bold Decision," National Council on Public History Conference, May 1997 (Albany, New York)

"Thomas Jefferson: Interpretations in the Modern Age," Elderhostel program, Monticello: 1994-98

"Founders and Foundations: Charlottesville's Early Jewish Families," The Albemarle County Historical Society, February 28, 1994 (in conjunction with the exhibit, "To Seek the Peace of the City")

"The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson," Lecture at Universitat Osnabruc, Germany, November 11, 1993

"The Eighteenth-Century World, " Jefferson Symposium, University of Virginia, June, 1993

"Commemorating Heroes: Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Columbus," Lynchburg College, Potter Lecture, April 1993

Symposium: "Jewish Life at Mr. Jefferson's University," University of Virginia, February 1993

Professional Honors and Activities (Representative)

Reader, Ron Brown Scholars Program, 1998 to present

Southern Jewish Historical Society, Secretary (2007-present); Chair, Grants Committee; Editor –           Museum Review section of Southern Jewish History (2009-present);  Co-Chair, 2011             Conference, Columbia, South Carolina (October 28-30, 2011).

Board of Directors: Albemarle County Historical Society, 1995- present

Consultant, Rawlings Prize Committee, Albemarle County Historical society

Grants Committee, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 1992, 1996,

1998 Distinguished Faculty Service Award, Hillel Foundation, 1993

A.C.E. Fellow, 1991-1992 -- University of Virginia

N.E.H./N.C.P.H. Institute on Teaching Public History, Summer 1984


Current Research

I have just completed a book related to the Explorations in Black Leadership project, co-directed with Julian Bond.  This book creates an analytical framework for the stories of more than 50 Black leaders interviewed as part of an oral history project.  The individual interviews can be found at www.blackleadership.virginia.edu

I am also continuing to explore the history of The University of Virginia during the 20th century, with a particular interest in understanding how the university evolved during the course of this century to become the leading public institution in America.