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Bonnie Ernst


Bonnie Ernst is a PhD candidate studying twentieth-century American history. Her dissertation, “Women in the Age of Mass Incarceration: Gender, Rights, and Punishment in Michigan,” examines how ideas of gender equality influenced prison activism in the late twentieth century. The dissertation draws on oral histories, archival material, and legal records to analyze how women in Michigan negotiated and resisted mass incarceration. Her research interests include women’s history, African American history, legal studies, and digital humanities.

Bonnie has experience working on public history projects at non-profit organizations. Currently, she is constructing a digital archive of the nation’s first major housing desegregation case, Gautreaux et al. v. Chicago Housing Authority, for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a non-profit organization in Chicago. She has also worked on criminal justice reform at the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and the Brennan Center for Justice in New York.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from New College, University of Oxford.

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