Nicole Myers Turner, PhD

Instructor in History

Nicole Turner, PhD

Office: 5025 MacAlister
Phone: 215.895.0992


  • BA, Haverford College
  • MDiv, Union Theological Seminary
  • MA, University of Pennsylvania
  • PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania


My research derives from my interest in understanding the many political, cultural and social ramifications of the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Longstanding interests in religion and power focus my study on the dynamic intersection between religion and politics in Virginia’s black communities during the post-emancipation period. My dissertation, “Faith and Freedom: The Politics of Black Religious Institutions in Post-Emancipation Virginia” describes the evolution of black church communities, race relations and gender formation in the complicated and uncertain terrain of Reconstruction era politics in Virginia. I find that political organizing based on church frameworks, at first advantageous, became politically, socially and spiritually decentering over the course of the 20 year years following emancipation.  Through this local study that incorporates examination of election data, church membership records, and religious networks, I offer a social and political history of late-nineteenth century black religion.

I will be teaching a wide variety of courses that touch upon my areas of research interest ranging from surveys of United States and African American history to more topical courses focusing on the fascinating, tumultuous, ethically and morally challenging issues of the Civil War, Reconstruction and American Slavery.  I am especially excited to incorporate and engage the vibrant history of Philadelphia in these courses.  Considerations of power, race, religion, class and gender inform my approaches to the material and to the inclusive and challenging atmosphere I like to establish in my classroom.

Selected Presentations

  • “Powering the Pulpit: Religion, Race, and Gender in Post-Emancipation Black Churches,” History Department, University of Delaware, March 2013 [Invited lecture].
  • “Guilty Partners: Black Churches, Black Freedom and Black Sexuality in Post-emancipation Virginia,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, January 2011
  • “Churches of Freedom Democracy and Citizenship,” Association for the Study of African American Life and History, October 2009