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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History

Faculty Directory

Bobby J. Donaldson

Principal, Preston Residential College; Associate Professor of History

Office: 227 Gambrell Hall
Degrees: B.A. Wesleyan University
Ph.D. Emory University
Phone: (803) 777-6282
Research Interests: American South, African American, Public History


A native of Augusta, Georgia, Professor Donaldson received his undergraduate degree in History and African American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and his Ph.D. in American History from Emory University where he served on the staff of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. Previously, he held the Thurgood Marshall Fellowship at Dartmouth College and the Susan Biddle Ford Fellowship at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.


A scholar of southern history and African American life and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Dr. Donaldson’s research and writings explore African American intellectual thought, print culture, education and religion.  Additionally, he has served as a consultant for museum exhibitions, archival collections, oral history initiatives, documentary films, and historic preservation projects, including the renovation of the Booker T. Washington High School in downtown Columbia. In 2008, the Historic Columbia Foundation awarded Dr. Donaldson and his students the Helen Kohn Hennig Prize for their documentary project on the Ward One community in downtown Columbia. In 2010, Professor Donaldson received a Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award.  After nine years of service, he was named a trustee emeritus of Wesleyan University in 2015.

Current Activities 

Currently, Professor Donaldson serves as the Faculty Principal of Preston Residential College. He also directs the Columbia SC 63: Our Story Matters, a documentary history initiative that chronicles the struggle for civil rights and social justice in South Carolina (  Presently, Donaldson is completing a monograph entitled “‘In Our Own Defense’: New Negro Intellectuals in the Jim Crow South.”  The project critiques the varied and often competing rhetorical, ideological, and political strategies black intellectuals in Georgia employed as they battled white supremacy and negotiated African Americans’ precarious “place” in both the South and the nation. He is also conducting research on a biography of William Jefferson White, a political activist, Baptist minister and journalist, who founded Morehouse College in 1867.