William Chafe is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University. He is the author and editor of thirteen books. His work has focused on civil rights history, women’s history, and modern political history. He helped to start the Duke Oral History Program, the Center for the Study of Civil Rights and Race Relations, the Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women, and the Center for Documentary Studies. He chaired the Duke History department from 1990-95 and was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education from 1995 to 2004.
His book on the Greensboro sit-ins, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina and the Black Struggle for Freedom, won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1981. His book Never Stop Running: Allard K. Lowenstein and the Struggle to Save American Liberalism, won the Sydney Hillman Book Award in 1993. The book he co-authored with Robert Korstad and Raymond Gavins, Remembering Jim Crow, won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2003.
Chafe served as president of the Organization of American Historians in 1999-2000 and on the executive board of the organization for more than ten years. In 2011, he was awarded the Roy Rozenzweig Prize for Distinguished Service by the Organization of American Historians. His book, The Rise and Fall of the American Century, focuses specifically on the Cold War, with much attention given to the Cuban Missile Crisis as the key event in John F. Kennedy’s evolving foreign policy, and on America’s future relations with the Soviet Union.