Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt

Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt is a historian, writer, and activist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her B.A. from Emory University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. Her first book, Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Cambridge University Press, 2017), won both the Bennett Wall Award from the Southern Historical Association, honoring the best book in Southern economic or business history published in the previous two years, as well as the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association.


Merritt is also co-editor, with Matthew Hild, of Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power (University Press of Florida, 2018), which won the 2019 Best Book Award from the UALE (United Association for Labor Education). She is currently writing a trade press book, as well as working on a major documentary project.


Merritt also writes historical pieces for the public and has had letters and essays published in a variety of outlets, from the New York Times and CNN to The Washington Post and Moyers and Co. Recently she released a self-narrated audiobook version of Masterless Men, starred in several seasons of The Science Channel’s most-watched show, “What on Earth?”, and launched her history-based podcast and YouTube Channel “Merrittocracy.”


She gives speeches and talks all over North America, on topics ranging from the role of poor whites in the Civil War to the importance of US labor history, and from the possibilities of multi-racial coalition building to the need for reparations and a Third Reconstruction. She is currently writing a new book, Resurrecting the Dream: Lillian Smith’s Message to White America, and working on a new Civil War documentary.

Keri Leigh Merritt