Ruth Crocker is a professor of History at Auburn University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in American History and directs M.A. and Ph.D. students. She recently completed a second three-year term as director of the interdisciplinary Women's Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Crocker completed her B.A. in Modern History at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in U.S. History from Purdue.
Crocker is the author of Social Work and Social Order: The Settlement Movement in Two Industrial Cities, 1889-1930 (Illinois, 1992), the first study to situate the late 19th century American settlement movement in the context of the racial, class, and gender dynamics of the urbanizing Midwest. Her most recent book, Mrs. Russell Sage: Women’s Activism and Philanthropy in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (Indiana University Press, 2006, paperback ed., 2008) examines the meanings of money for Victorian women through the career of Margaret Olivia Sage (1828-1918), an important but today little-known philanthropist and contemporary of Rockefeller and Carnegie, who gave away about half a billion dollars (in today’s money). Based on research in thirty-three archives, this first ever study of Sage draws on theory about gifts, benevolence, and gender to propose a new understanding of the institution-building roles of wealthy Victorian women. Stanley Katz (Princeton University and the American Council of Learned Societies) reviewed the book in an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 2007). Crocker is currently editor-in-chief of a digital edition of the papers of Olivia Sage, with support from Auburn University Libraries. Support for her research has also come from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.
Dr. Crocker's work has appeared in Social Politics and in Albion, as well as in several anthologies including the prize-winning, Charity, Philanthropy and Civility in American History, eds., Larry Friedman and Mark McGarvie (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Women on Their Own, eds., Rudoph Bell and Virginia Yans (Rutgers University Press, 2008); The Gilded Age: Perspectives on the Origins of Modern America, ed. Charles Calhoun, 2nd. edition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007); Women and Philanthropy in Education, ed., Andrea Walton (Indiana University Press, 2004), also a prize-winner; Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, ed. Kriste Lindenmeyer (Scholarly Resources, 2000); Philanthropic Foundations: New Scholarship, New Possibilities, ed. Ellen Lagemann (Indiana University Press, 1999); and Contesting the Master Narrative: Essays in Social History, eds. Jeff Cox and Shelton Stromquist (Iowa, 1998). She has given numerous conference presentations. She has served on the book prize committee for the Southern Association of Women Historians (SAWH), on the Council of SHGAPE (Society for the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era), and as a member of its editorial board. She has also chaired the article prize committee for SHGAPE. In 2008 she was elected to the executive board of the international Social Science History Association.