Hilde, Libra R.

Professor, History


Preferred: libra.hilde@sjsu.edu

Office Hours

Thursdays, 1:30-3:30 p.m. or email me for an appointment


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, History
  • M.A., Harvard University, History
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley, History and Native American Studies


I study the history of race and gender in the 19th century United States, with a particular focus on slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. I also have a strong background in, and teach courses on legal history, the history of medicine, and Native American History.

I started college at the University of California, Berkeley as an engineering major, but taking a survey course with the late Leon Litwack (who specialized in African American History), changed my trajectory, and I ultimately ended up with a double major in History and Native American Studies. For me, pursuing degrees in both History and Ethnic Studies offered a perfect combination of foundational skill building and focused content. 

I chose History based partly on the inspiration of an amazing professor, but also for other reasons. As I looked at the course catalog, I found so many of the possibilities intriguing. History seemed like the ideal way to get a bit of everything. History is an inclusive major and discipline. Every person, place, and everything has a history. We are also a major and discipline that intersects broadly with other realms of knowledge. We study the history of the economy, the environment, science and technology, politics, religion, the law, ideas and thought, society, culture, and more. Historians use an astonishing array of quantitative and qualitative data and sources (including archaeology, material culture, art, music, literature, pop culture) and a range of concepts from a range of disciplines (psychology, political theory, etc.). 

History is about far more than names and dates. The past is relevant to the present and informs the future. It is only by understanding how and why institutions, ideas, and trends formed and how they developed over time that we can effectively address current challenges.


Slavery, Fatherhood, and Paternal Duty in African American Communities over the Long Nineteenth Century, The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture, University of North Carolina Press, 2020.

Worth a Dozen Men: Women and Nursing in the Civil War South, University of Virginia Press, 2012.


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 2017-18.

Research Institute for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University, 2005.