Meet New Professor on the Block Dr. Maggie Carmack


Zoe Montague, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Photo of Dr. Maggie Carmack | Courtesy of Presbyterian College
Photo of Dr. Maggie Carmack | Courtesy of Presbyterian College

Accidental historian. That’s what Dr. Margaret Carmack of the Presbyterian College History Department calls herself. It’s hard to think of Carmack’s career as an accident now because of her extensive list of credentials in history, but nonetheless she says she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life when she was an undergraduate at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

“When I was in undergrad I didn’t know what I was doing with my life,” Carmack said. “The magic words for me were: graduate on time. I had a history professor who looked at my transcript and said ‘you can graduate on time if you’re a history major.’”

Carmack took two years off between graduating college and attending grad school. “I worked for an outdoor adventure company in western North Carolina. I basically went kayaking and played on the river for two years,” she said.

She decided to go back to school when her undergraduate advisor encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree. She went on to get a Master’s of Arts in American Studies at the College of William and Mary. Carmack said that during this time she was especially interested in the use of photography during the civil rights movement.

“That launched me into my whole PhD dissertation study,” she said.

Carmack ultimately received her PhD from UNC Greensboro, with a focus on race relations in Southern cities. This is why she is so excited to teach an African American History class next semester.

“I know it’s usually been taught in terms of African American religion, but we’re going to look at the idea of community protection,” she said.

Students in her class will soon learn about Carmack’s love for writing. “My favorite thing [about history] is the writing part of it,” Carmack said. “I don’t know many people who have to write or express their ideas on a day to day basis. In every job you have to communicate and in history we communicate through writing.”

Carmack said she decided to come to PC because of the students and faculty she met when she came to visit.

“I was really impressed by the engagement of the students, and I love that it’s a small school,” Carmack said. “It really gives me a chance for me to know my students and hopefully gives them a chance to get to know me.”