‘Monuments, Memory and the Case of Celia’ program set for Wednesday

imagesMany people in Callaway County and beyond have heard of Celia, the 19-year-old slave who killed her master outside Fulton in 1855. Many also have read the book, “Celia, a Slave.”

Now there is an opportunity to learn more about the case when a renowned historian from the University of Michigan visits William Woods University.

Dr. Martha Jones
Dr. Martha Jones

Dr. Martha Jones, a lawyer and the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History at the University of Michigan, will speak about “Monuments, Memory and the Case of Celia” at noon Wednesday, March 22, in Dulany Auditorium, and her presentation is free and open to the public.

For Celia, a slave on farm just outside of Fulton, five years of being repeatedly raped by her middle-aged owner was enough. On the night of June 23, 1855, she murdered and dismembered him. Was she a slave who murdered her master or a woman who defended herself from rape?  How should we remember and understand this important case?

Dr. Jones is a writer, commentator, researcher, and historian.  Her work incorporates race, gender, law, and history. Her early education prepared her for work as an activist lawyer. She received a B.A. in psychology from Hunter College in 1983 and discovered a passion for social justice.  She earned a J.D. in 1987 from the CUNY School of Law, where the motto is “Law in the Service of Human Needs.”

drawing of CeliaUpon graduation, she worked as a public interest lawyer representing homeless people, people with mental illness, and women living with HIV and AIDS.  She discovered her inner archive rat, learned the politics of history, and stayed at Columbia to earn a history Ph.D. in 2001.


The result:  she is a 19th century U.S. historian who focuses on law, culture and inequality. She is the author of three books and numerous articles. She has held fellowships with National Humanities Center, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the National Constitution Center, the Organization of American Historians, and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.

Among her many projects, she is currently working on a memoir that explores her family’s experience with mixed-race identity over two centuries and many generations.

For more information, contact Dr. Shawn Hull, director of advancement, at shawn.hull@williamwoods.edu or (573) 592-4389.