Barbara D. Savage is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has taught since 1995. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in twentieth century African American history; the history of American religious and social reform movements; and the history of the relationship between media and politics.
She is the author of Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War, and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948 (University of North Carolina Press, 1999) which won the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Award for the best book in American history in the period 1916-1966. In addition, she is co-editor of Women and Religion in the African Diaspora (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), a collection of new work from scholars associated with a three-year Ford Funded project coordinated with Professor R. Marie Griffith at Princeton University.
Her most recent book, Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion (Harvard University Press, 2008), is an historical examination of debates about the public responsibility of black churches and the role of religion in racial leadership. Savage has published several articles related to that project, including "Biblical and Historical Imperatives: Toward a History of Ideas about the Political Role of Black Churches," in African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures, ed., Vincent Wimbush (New York: Continuum Press, 2000) and "W. E. B. Du Bois and 'the Negro Church,'" Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (March, 2000).
She was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Smithsonian Institution for work on her first book. She also has received fellowship awards for work on her current project from: the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University; the Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion; and the Scholars-in-Residence Program at the Schomburg Center on Black Culture.
Savage received her doctorate in history from Yale in 1995, and also holds a law degree from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. Prior to entering graduate school, she worked in Washington, DC, as a Congressional staff member and as a member of the staff of the Children's Defense Fund. During graduate school, she served as Director of Federal Relations, Office of the General Counsel at Yale University.
At Penn, among other University commitments, she served as a member of the recent Presidential Search Committee. She also is a faculty member for the National Endowment for the Humanities College and University Teachers' Institute on the Civil Rights Movement, held during the summers at Harvard University's W. E. B. Du Bois Institute.