Judy Giesberg, PhD

Judith (Judy) Giesberg, PhD

Judith (Judy) Giesberg, PhD, holds the Robert M. Birmingham Chair in the Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. She earned a PhD in History from Boston College. Her research focuses on the experience of civilians in the US Civil War, with particular focus on immigrant and poor women and free Blacks in the North.

Dr. Giesberg is the author of five books on the period, Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition (2000),“Army at Home:” Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (2009), Keystone State in Crisis: Pennsylvania in the Civil War (2013), Emilie Davis's Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 (2014), and Sex and the Civil War: Soldiers, Pornography, and the Making of Modern Morality, (2017). Giesberg is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Archives and Records Administration.

Dr. Giesberg directs a number of digital projects that make sources available to teachers, scholars, museum professionals, and genealogists. The Memorable Days Project (2012-14) produced a digitized and transcribed version of Emilie Davis’s Civil War diary, a rare diary kept be a free Black woman. A Great Thing for our People (2014-15) tells the history of antebellum Philadelphia’s premier school for African American youth, including the early life of civil rights activist Octavius Catto. In 2017, Dr. Giesberg launched Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, a project that collects and digitizes “Information Wanted” ads taken out by ex-slaves looking for family members lost in the domestic slave trade.

From 2010 to 2015 Dr. Giesberg served as Associate Editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era, and from 2015 to 2019 she was Editor in Chief. She lectures widely to Civil War roundtables and at Historical Societies; regularly addresses audiences of genealogists, teachers, and museum attendees; and consults and collaborates with public history professionals. She is recipient of Villanova University’s Tolle Lege Award for Teaching Excellence and the Veritas Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Dr. Giesberg founded and serves as Director of the Rooted Project which is working to research and tell a history of Villanova University informed by today’s movements toward racial and economic justice.

About the Robert M. Birmingham Endowed Chair in Core Humanities

Robert M. Birmingham ’66 CLAS was a former chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees and served on the steering committee of Transforming Minds and Hearts: The Campaign for Villanova, which began in 2005 and concluded in 2007. To recognize the Birmingham family’s many accomplishments and significant commitment to Villanova, the Endowed Chair in Core Humanities was established in Robert’s name in 1998.