Guide to the Mab Segrest Papers, 1889-2014
Dr. Mab Segrest is a feminist writer, scholar, and activist who received her PhD from Duke University in 1979. She was born in 1949 in Tuskegee, Alabama and attended Huntingdon College from 1967 to 1971. Multiple generations of Dr. Segrest's family have lived in the Tuskegee area and influenced its history and development. Segrest is recognized for speaking and writing about sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression. She has founded, served on the boards of, and consulted with a wide range of social justice organizations throughout her life. From its creation in 1969 until it disbanded in 1983, Segrest participated in the southern feminist writing collective Feminary working to produce the journal of the same name. After Feminary disbanded, she worked for six years (1983–1990) with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV), focusing much of her work on removing the Ku Klux Klan from North Carolina. She earned her livelihood from 1992–2000 as Coordinator of the Urban-Rural Mission (USA), part of the URM network of the World Council of Churches. After working full-time with various political organizations, Segrest returned to academia. From 2002 until 2014, Segrest worked at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. In 2004, Segrest was appointed the Fuller-Matthai Professor of Gender & Women's Studies there. She is currently conducting research for a book or series of books about the Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia. Her major published works include: Living in a House I Do Not Own (Night Heron Press, 1982), My Mama's Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture, (Firebrand Books, 1985), Memoir of a Race Traitor (South End Press, 1994), and Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice (Rutgers University Press, 2002).
- Collection Number
- Mab Segrest papers
- Segrest, Mab, 1949-
- 66.6 Linear Feet, 119 boxes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
This collection documents Segrest's personal life, education, and professional life and is comprised of materials related to her family, activism, research, writings, teaching, and travel.
The collection also contains a typescript of Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina.
There are significant materials relating to Segrest's work with the following organizations: The NC Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV), The Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR), The North Carolina Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCCGLE), National Women's Studies Association (NWSA), The World Council of Churches/Urban Rural Mission (WCC/URM), and The National Women's Studies Association/Southern Women's Studies Association (NWSA/SWSA).
Where possible, Segrest's original folder titles have been retained.
Access to the Collection
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Most of the audiovisual components in this accession are not immediately accessible because they require further processing before use. Unless otherwise noted, Technical Services staff need to reformat for use copies of the films.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Mab Segrest Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The series is divided into two chronological subseries: Personal and Professional. In some cases, there is overlap of personal and professional content because of the nature of the relationships Segrest has had with many of her correspondents.
Personal correspondence includes letters written by members of the Segrest family; most were written to or by Dr. Segrest. Many of the letters to her natal family members address their reactions to her published works. There is also a significant amount of correspondence between Dr. Segrest and her friends and chosen family, including Barbara Culbertson, David Jolly, Ceci Gray, Marquita Seavey, Monica Raymond, Adrienne Rich, Catherine Moriai, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and others.
Professional correspondence includes letters to and from publishers and editors, letters to and from other writers discussing their work, and correspondence documenting her academic career.
The Early Life and Family Material series is divided into three subseries: Childhood, Education, and Ancestry.
The Childhood subseries contains materials related to Dr. Segrest's childhood (birth until graduation from high/secondary school).
The Education subseries includes mostly materials documenting Dr. Segrest's time at Huntingdon College and Duke University.
The Ancestry subseries contains material documenting Dr. Segrest's family of origin. Material in this series documents Dr. Segrest's family's involvement in Civil War, construction of the Panama Canal, World War II, and other historical events. There is also a small amount of material related to Dr. Segrest's personal life and daughter in this subseries; more can be found in the Correspondence series.
The Teaching series includes material from Dr. Segrest's experiences teaching at Connecticut College, Duke University, Campbell University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Association, a minimum security men's prison, and other institutions.
Dr. Segrest began teaching at Connecticut College in 2002 as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Chair of the Gender and Women's Studies Department; during this time she commuted from Durham, NC to Connecticut regularly.
The Duke University subseries contains material regarding Dr. Segrest's involvement with the Women's Studies department.
Dr. Segrest briefly taught at Campbell University and was the faculty advisor for "Lyricist," a language arts publication.
Dr. Segrest led classes on Queer Southern Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the late 1990s.
The Various Institutions subseries contains assorted material from different institutions of learning that Dr. Segrest has been affiliated with.
The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers' Association subseries reflects Dr. Segrest's time teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in migrant labor camps in the 1980s.
Dr. Segrest taught a GED course in a minimum security men's prison in the 1980s.
The Personal Files subseries is mostly composed of calendars, planners, and journals belonging to Dr. Segrest. There are also letters of recommendation and non-specific personal budget information in the subseries.
This series is closed to research.
The Writings series is comprised of material documenting Dr. Segrest’s published and unpublished work including books, articles, papers, and other works. The subseries are organized largest (most material) to smallest (last material).
Publications represented in this series are Memoir of a Race Traitor, Born to Belonging, The Third Wave, My Mama's Dead Squirrel, Out in the South, Living in a House I Do Not Own, "What's Sex Got to Do With It, Y'all?" and "The Souls of White Folk",
The Articles, Essays, and Book Reviews subseries contains an assortment of shorter writings (including drafts) by Dr. Segrest.
The Manuscripts subseries is a collection of manuscripts labeled as "Rejected" or "Accepted." The Prelude was a publication at Huntingdon College, Dr. Segrest's alma mater. "Question of Equality" is a chapter of a companion volume to a PBS series about gay and lesbian rights. Dr. Segrest wrote one of four chapters in the book. "Outlook: National Gay and Lesbian Quarterly," was a serial publication. Dr. Segrest wrote a piece for the Winter 1989 edition that appears on pages 10-15.
This became the book Sing, Whisper, Shout, Pray: Feminist Visions for a Just World
This series closed to research.
The subseries contained in the Activism series are arranged in descending order by amount of material, then chronologically where possible within each organizational subseries.
Dr. Segrest helped to form NCARRV (North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence) in 1985 with Christina Davis-McCoy. The group focused on anti-Klan activity in the state.
In the mid-1990s, Dr. Segrest was involved with the North Carolina Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE).
WomonWrites is a retreat for female authors founded in 1979. Dr. Segrest was one of the chief organizers.
The Our South subseries contains materials related to Dr. Segrest's involvement in the group in the 1980s.
From its creation in 1969 until it disbanded in 1983, Segrest participated in the southern feminist writing collective Feminary working to produce the journal of the same name.
Dr. Segrest was on the board (1986-1997) of the Center for Democratic Renewal, which was founded in 1979 as the National Anti-Klan Network by C.T. Vivian and Anne Braden.
The National Women's Studies Association and the Southeastern Women's Studies Association subseries contain materials related to Dr. Segrest's work with those organizations.
Dr. Segrest was Coordinator (1992-2000) of the Urban Rural Mission, part of the World Council of Churches.
The Various Groups subseries reflect Dr. Segrest's involvement with many social justice and feminist causes throughout the course of her career.
The Conferences and Speeches subseries contains materials related to guest lectures, keynote addresses, and speeches that Dr. Segrest has given around the country, as well as information about conferences that she has attended (and in some cases helped to organize).
The Research and Subject Files series contains printed material as well as interviews, some of which were conducted by Dr. Segrest as part of her research for her published works.
This series contains VHS tapes, cassette tapes, photos, art, and other visual materials related to Dr. Segrest's work, personal life, and research.
- Dorothy Allison papers (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Civil rights movements -- Southern States
- Feminism -- North Carolina
- Gay activists -- Southern States
- Gay rights -- North Carolina
- Homosexuality -- Southern States
- Lesbians -- North Carolina
- Political activists -- Southern States
- Southern States -- Religious life and customs
The Mab Segrest papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1991, 1994-1996, 2006, and 2013-2014.
Processed and encoded by Rachel Sanders, January 2016.
Accessions described in this collection guide: 1991-0158, 1994-086, 1995-088, 1996-124, and 2006-027, 2014-0164, 2014-0165