About Allyson Hobbs

Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford University.

Allyson’s first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press in October 2014, examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present.   

A Chosen Exile won two prizes from the Organization of American Historians: the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history. Allyson is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. 

Stanford historian's first book wins two prizes

A Chosen Exile makes summer reading lists

                                                                                                                                                                                                          A Chosen Exile has been featured on All Things Considered on National Public Radio, Book TV on C-SPAN, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC, The Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International, The Madison Show on SiriusXM, and TV News One with Roland MartinA Chosen Exile has been reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco ChronicleHarper’s, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Boston Globe.  The book was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, a “Best Book of 2014” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and a “Book of the Week” by the Times Higher Education in London. The Root named A Chosen Exile as one of the “Best 15 Nonfiction Books by Black Authors in 2014.”  

She is a member of the History Makers Higher Education Advisory Board and she was honored by the Silicon Valley branch of the NAACP with a Freedom Fighter Award.

Allyson is a contributor writer to the New Yorker.com. She gave a TEDx talk at Stanford and she has appeared on C-Span, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.  Her work has been featured on cnn.comslate.com, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC World Service, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor

Allyson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and she received a Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago.  She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.   

Allyson’s next book, Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, explores the violence, humiliation, and indignities that African American motorists experienced on the road.  Jim Crow laws and local customs put mid-century American pleasures—taking to the road, exploring the country, enjoying the freedom and the autonomy of driving one’s own car—out of the reach of black drivers.  This book is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2019.

Allyson teaches courses on American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth century American history and culture.  She has won numerous teaching awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Graves Award in the Humanities, and the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award. 

Allyson's class, "On the Road: Travel in Twentieth Century America," took a road trip from Stanford to Carmel, CA in February 2016. This video captures the students' reflections on the trip.  

Allyson lives in Atherton, California with her labradoodle, Clover.

A Chosen Exile

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life