I grew up on top of a ridge in East Tennessee, on the land where my great grandparents once farmed. Not far from Knoxville, where my parents worked. I graduated from public school and headed to Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, TN, where I took courses in women's history, southern literature, and Appalachian studies. I then found my way to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, where I studied women's and labor history. I also interned at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. That experience cracked open my own family's union organizing history, previously unknown to me. With a master's in history, I returned home and taught community college courses in history and writing. In 2008 I headed to UNC-Chapel Hill, where I received my PhD in history. In 2014 I started a job at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.