Ashley Brown

Position title: Assistant Professor & Allan H. Selig Chair in the History of Sport and Society


Ashley Brown


I am a twentieth-century United States historian whose research and teaching focus on African American history, women’s history, and the history of sport. Explorations of the ways in which culture, labor, media, and social movements and trends intersect with sports guide my work. My first book, Serving Herself: The Life and Times of Althea Gibson (Oxford University Press, 2023), is a full-scale biography of the first African American to win titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals between 1956 and 1958. Gibson was also the first African American to compete on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, where she made her competitive debut in 1963. The Association of Black Women Historians awarded Serving Herself the Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize for 2023. Bestowed since 1984, the award recognizes the best book in Black women’s history. My current projects are investigations of sports and journalism.


Ph.D., George Washington University
B.A., Mount Holyoke College


Selected Publications


  • “The Odd Couple: Althea Gibson and Alice Marble, Forest Hills, 1950,” Capturing the Moment: Iconic Sports Photography of the 20th Century, University of Texas Press, Forthcoming Fall 2024.
  • Review, King Richard (Warner Bros., 2021), Journal of American History, 109.3 (December  2022): 730-732.
  • “’Uncomplimentary Things’: Tennis Player Althea Gibson, Sexism, Homophobia, and Anti-Queerness in the Black Media,” Journal of African American History, 106.2 (Spring 2021): 249-277.
  • “Swinging for the State Department: American Women Tennis Players in Diplomatic Goodwill Tours, 1941-1959,” Journal of Sport History, 42.3 (Fall 2015): 289-309.


  • “How Althea Gibson Faced Discrimination–Even as a Tennis Champion,”, March 1, 2023.

Selected Awards

  • Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize, Association of Black Women Historians, 2023.
  • Nellie McKay Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020-2021.
  • Fall Research Competition Award, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020.
  • Visiting Fellowship for Post-Doctoral Scholars, James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, Emory University, 2017-2018.
  • Research Associateship, Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, 2016-2017.
  • National Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, 2016.
  • 30th Annual Graduate Student Essay Prize, North American Society for Sport History, 2015.
  • Presidential Merit Fellowship, George Washington University, 2010-2015.

History Courses

  • History 136 – Sport, Recreation, and Society
  • History 201 – The Historians Craft: Heroes and Amazons in Sports
  • History 221 – Explorations in American History: African Americans and Sports
  • History 500 – Reading Seminar: Women and U.S. Sports History
  • History 500 – Reading Seminar: African American Migrations
  • History 500 – Reading Seminar: Biography in U.S. Sports History
  • History 600 – Advanced Seminar in History: History, Sport, and Film
  • History 901 – Biography in U.S. Women’s History
  • History 901 – African American Women, Freedom, and Identity