History professor, Courtney Tollison

Courtney Tollison '99

Distinguished University Public Historian and Scholar

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Dr. Courtney Tollison is the Distinguished University Public Historian and Scholar at Furman University. Previously, she served as the Founding Historian for the Upcountry History Museum-Furman University and Founding Director of the Furman University Oral History Project. She specializes in modern American history, particularly in South Carolina and the Upstate, and in Public History.

She has been a Fulbright Scholar (Ukraine) and a fellow in Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office, a recipient of a grant from ASIANetwork’s Faculty Enhancement Program (India) and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Military History Instructors Program at Fort Leavenworth, and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative.

She has published three books, curated three museum exhibits, worked on several documentaries, conducted over 100 oral histories, and served as historian for memorials, markers, and sculptures throughout downtown Greenville, including the Major Rudolf Anderson Memorial.

As a public historian, Tollison maintains an active presence in the humanities across the state. She is a State Chairperson for National Votes for Women Trail and serves on the boards of the S.C. Historical Society, Humanities Council SC, S.C. Sesquicentennial Commission of the Civil War, S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, the Advisory Board of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, and Christ Church Episcopal School Alumni Board. She also served as the Program Chair for Greenville’s Year of Altruism.

She has been featured on WYFF-TV, WSPA-TV, SC-ETV, SC-ETV Radio, and has published in The Greenville News, TOWN, Belle, Post and Courier (Charleston), and the Greenville Journal, where she writes a regular column on local history. In addition to many local publications, she has also been interviewed in nationally prominent publications like The Boston Globe, USA Today, the History Channel, and ABC News.

Additional Facts: 

  • Historian, Major Rudolf Anderson Memorial
  • Curated the exhibit "The New Digs: Furman Campuses and the Evolution of a University, 1939-1973."
  • Curated the exhibit "Weaving Our Survival: Upcountry South Carolina and World War II."
  • Provided historical research for the exhibit "Protests, Prayers, and Progress: Greenville's Civil Rights Movement."
  • Associate Producer and Historian, "Threads of Victory: Upcountry South Carolina During World War II."
  • "A Timeline of Desegregation in South Carolina's Colleges and Universities" for the state of South Carolina's Information Highway (http://www.sciway.net/edu/sc-college-university-desegregation.html).


  • The Furman Standard Inductee
  • Fulbright Scholar (Ukraine)and Speaker, US Embassy Outreach Program (Kiev, Ukraine)
  • 50 Most Influential People in Greenville
  • Southeastern Museums Conference Award of Excellence (Exhibit) for "Weaving Our Survival: Upcountry Stories of World War II"
  • American Association for State and Local History Award for the documentary "Threads of Victory: Upcountry South Carolina During World War II"
  • Seth and Mary Edith Hinshaw Fellowship, awarded by the North Carolina Society of Friends and Guilford College
  • Inaugural Recipient of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce's Young Professional of the Year Award
  • Furman University Outstanding Young Alumni Award
  • Link Magazine's "Who's Next: A List of 51 Future Upstate Leaders"
  • Greenville Magazine's Greenville First 35 and Under Best and Brightest
  • Association for Women in Communications Communicator of the Year Award
  • Matrix Awards Winner, Association for Women in Communications
  • 6 Furman Advantage Summer Research Fellowships
  • George D. Terry Professional Development Fellowship, South Carolina Federation of Museums
  • Furman University Research and Professional Growth Grant. Faculty Development Fund Grant
  • Community Foundation of Greenville Hollingsworth Funds Grant to support the development of Weaving Our Survival
  • South Carolina Humanities Council Grant.


  • Ph.D., University of South Carolina
  • M.A., University of South Carolina
  • B.A., Furman University



  • “Our Country First, then Greenville”: A New South City During the Progressive Era and World War I (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2023).
  • World War II and Upcountry South Carolina"We Just Did Everything We Could" (Charleston: The History Press, 2009).
  • Furman University (Charleston: Arcadia Press, 2004).

Selected Other Publications

  • "Recording the Home Front Response" in Zen and the Art of Local History, edited by Carol Kammen and Bob Beatty (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).
  • "A New Home for Furman University," in Proceedings of the Greenville County Historical Society (2014), edited by Jeff Willis.
  • "Furman University" and "Southern Liberal Arts College in the 21st century" for the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 19 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011)
  • "Ann Pamela Cunningham," and "Lucile Ellerbe Godbold" in South Carolina Encyclopedia, edited by Walter Edgar (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006).
  • "Little Rock Nine" and "Women's Political Council
  • Montgomery, Alabama" in Encyclopedia of Black Women in America, 2nd ed., edited by Darlene Clark Hine, etc. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
  • "In Pursuit of Excellence: Desegregation and Southern Baptist Politics at Furman University," in History of Higher Education Annual 2004, edited by Roger Geiger (Pennsylvania State University, 2004).


  • Timothy P. Grady and Melissa Walker, eds., Recovering the Piedmont Past: Unexplored Moments in Nineteenth-Century Upcountry South Carolina History (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013) in West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies (2014).
  • Reviewer for Courtney McKinney-Whitaker, The Last Sister (University of South Carolina Press, 2014) and Tom Moore Craig, ed., Upcountry South Carolina Goes to War: Letters of the Anderson, Brockman, and Moore Families, 1853–1865 (University of South Carolina Press, 2009).
  • Lynn Hudson, The Making of "Mammy Pleasant": A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco," H-Women, H-Net Reviews, April 2003.

Selected Articles in Newspapers & Magazines


  • "Spreading the Word: Access to Oral History Collections in the Digital Age," Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. Washington, DC., 2014
  • "Spotlight on Student Research," Panel Co-Chair at the Southeastern Museums Conference, September 2013.
  • "Using 'Centers' to Teach Public History and Engage Community Partners," National Council on Public History Annual Conference, 2011.