Publication Date

March 25, 2022

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


African American, Women, Gender, & Sexuality

Cherisse Jones-Branch is dean of the Graduate School at Arkansas State University. She lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and has been a member since 2002.

Alma maters: BA, College of Charleston, 1994; MA, University of Charleston, 1997; PhD, Ohio State University, 2003

Cherisse Jones-Branch

Cherisse Jones-Branch

Fields of interest: rural, African American, women

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I always knew I wanted to be a historian. I read a lot of history as a child and had many questions about the stories of those who had been excluded from the historical narrative.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

I have been at Arkansas State University and in Jonesboro for 19 years. I love the moderate size of the town and the university. And if I want a big city experience, Memphis, Tennessee, is only an hour away!

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a book on African Americans and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

Yes they have. I never imagined that I would become a rural/agricultural historian. Now, I do not understand how I was not doing this kind of research all along!

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?

While doing research for my 2021 book on Black women and rural activism in Arkansas, I discovered a woman named Annie Zachary Pike who was a significant landowner in the Arkansas Delta, who in 1972 was the first African American woman to run for the state senate as a Republican.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

My most recent book Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps: Black Women’s Activism in Rural Arkansas, 1914–1965!

What do you value most about the history discipline?

The research, writing, and critical thinking skills that have served me well as a scholar and as graduate school dean.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?

It is important to me to stay abreast of the most current scholarship being produced by my colleagues.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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Matthew Keough
Matthew Keough

American Historical Association