​Dr. Kathryn M. Silva

Dr. Silva is working on a book: “At Times We May Seem Bold:” African American Women in the Southern Textile Industry from Slavery to Civil Rights.


I am a proud Cape Verdean-American woman, tenured Associate Professor of History, and Chair of the Department of Humanities at the oldest Historically Black University in South Carolina. I was born and raised in southeastern Massachusetts, where Cape Verdean culture thrives today. My Mother is a former seamstress. She learned her trade from her Father and brothers, who were tailors both in Cabo Verde and the United States. My Mother’s stories of her seamstress business in Cabo Verde before migrating to the United States in the early 1970s, a few years before I was born, fostered my interest in clothing. My Father is a retired Army officer and art teacher. My parents’ influence and love for art and fashion led me to the history of textiles. My path was not a straight arrow.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a dual degree in Africana Studies and History, I moved to South Carolina to pursue my Master’s and Doctorate degrees in history from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. In 2005, I began to study the history of African American women who labored in the Southern textile industry. I have since led courses, given over a hundred lectures, earned grants, and created significant writing projects dedicated to this history. 

I served as an Assistant Professor of History at Andrews University (2010-2014) and Utica College (2014-2016) before moving to Orangeburg, South Carolina, to begin a career at Claflin in 2016. 

My work explores the intersection of race, labor, and gender, focusing on the knowledge and skills of African American women engaged in the textile trade. My teaching is at the center of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is inclusive mentorship focused on career pathways and soft skills to create a more just and equitable world.

Website: https://www.kathrynmsilva.com/


Ph.D. History, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Dissertation, “‘Six Days Thou Shalt Labor:’ African Americans in the Southern Textile Industry, 1895-1929”

M.A. History, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Thesis, “Race, Class, and Gender: The Reconstruction of Textile Mill Work in the Jim Crow South”

B.A. Africana Studies, History, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Recipient of the David Walker Prize for Excellence in Africana Studies

Research Interests

  • African American History
  • African American Women's History
  • Civil Rights and African American Nationalism
  • Emergence of Modern Africa
  • History of Colonial Africa
  • Research and Methods


Assistant Professor of African and African American History, Department of History, International Studies Program, Utica College, Utica, New York, 2014-2016

Assistant Professor of History, Department of History and Political Science, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, 2010-2014

Activities and Honors


2018    Certificate of Excellence in Research, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Claflin University

2018    Spirit Award, “Mentorship,” Spring 2018 Faculty Awards, Claflin University

2016    Winner, “Excellence in Fostering a Diverse Campus,” Utica College Diversity Committee, Spring 2016 Annual Banquet

2016    “Women of the Year,” Women In A New Direction, Student Organization, All Girls Rock Annual Banquet, Utica College, New York, March 2, 2016

2015-2016 Faculty Mentor of the Year, K. Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center, Utica College 

​Dr. Kathryn M. Silva
Associate Professor and Chair of Humanities
  • School of Humanities & Social Sciences
Chapel, Suite 24, Room 8