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Faculty and Staff

Debbie Z. Harwell
Instructional Assistant Professor
Editor, Houston History

Debbie Z. Harwell

Office: 332 McElhinney

Debbie Z. Harwell has served as managing editor/editor of the Center for Public History’s Houston History magazine since 2009 and taught Houston History and U.S. History in Honors since 2012. Her Houston History classes examine social, cultural, economic, and political history, as well as the city’s diversity through migration and immigration. Putting her public history background to work, Harwell also teaches classes in oral history methods and writing and editing for a history magazine. She directs students working on Center for Public History projects such as Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey and 100 Years of Stories,: Documenting a Century at the University of Houston. Harwell received her Ph.D. at UH in U.S. History, focusing on women in the civil rights movement. Her book Wednesday in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change, Freedom Summer 1964 won the 2015 SAWH Julia Cherry Spruill prize for the best book in southern women’s history.


  • Ph. D. University of Houston
  • M.A. University of Memphis
  • B.A. Texas Christian University

Research Interests

  • Houston History
  • Civil Rights History
  • Women’s History
  • Public History


  • Houston History Since 1836
  • Houston History: The Path to Diversity
  • U.S. History Since 1877
  • Voices from the Storm (Hurricane Harvey)
  • Oral History
  • History Magazine Writing and Editing

Selected Publications

  • Wednesdays in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change, Freedom Summer 1964
  • “Wednesdays in Mississippi: Uniting Women across Regional and Racial Lines, Summer 1964,” Journal of Southern History, August 2010.
  • Various articles in Houston History, published by UH Center for Public History


  • UH Instructional/Clinical Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, 2021.
  • Honors College Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence, 2020.
  • Julia Cherry Spruill Prize awarded by The Southern Association for Women Historians for the best book on southern women’s history published in 2014, presented November 2015.
  • John O. King Graduate Student of the Year Award in History, University of Houston, 2012.

Affiliations and Links

Houston History Alliance, Secretary and Board Member