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Thayer Lecture to focus on ‘Virginia Eugenics at 100 Years’

Elizabeth Catte

Historian and writer Elizabeth Catte will give Randolph College’s 2024 Philip Thayer Memorial Lecture, “Virginia Eugenics at 100 Years,” on Tuesday, March 12 at 6 p.m. in Wimberly Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia (2018) and Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia (2021), writes compact nonfiction about history, memory, and place.

She also runs Passel, an applied history firm that does consulting work to solve real-world problems in Appalachia and the mid-Atlantic, and serves as an editor-at-large for West Virginia University Press.

“Elizabeth Catte is an esteemed public historian, and she has written extensively about contemporary life in Appalachia,” said David Schwartz, Randolph’s Mary Frances Williams Professor of Philosophy. “We thought her focus on Appalachia would be especially meaningful to our audience here in Central Virginia.”

Her work has appeared on NPR and in The Washington Post, the Guardian, and The Nation and has been reviewed in The New York Times, Bookforum, The New York Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times.

Pure America was named a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2021, in addition to making the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards longlist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction.

Catte, who holds a PhD in public history, is also a member of the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and a board member of the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center in Pennington Gap, Virginia.

In addition to the lecture, Catte will also visit a class and spend time with Randolph’s honors students during her time on campus.

The event is part of National Disability Awareness Month.

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