Dr. Tom Hanchett is a community historian interested in the history of urban placemaking, often using Charlotte, NC, as a case study.
He is best known for his 16 years as Staff Historian at Levine Museum of the New South where he co-created a string of award-winding exhibitions. Subjects included Charlotte regional history since 1865 (permanent exhibition Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers); women’s history in the 1970s; the Carolina roots of the Brown v Board landmark school desegregation case; Southern stereotypes in the comic strips; recent demographic change including the rapid growth of Latino population in the South. Previously he worked as historic preservation research consultant with Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and other groups.
Tom writes widely on urban and Southern history and culture. Topics range from pathbreaking work on South’s Rosenwald schools for African Americans, to U.S. tax policy and the rise of shopping malls, to country and gospel music recording in Charlotte prior to the Nashville era, to explorations of Southern city planning by designers John Nolen and Jospeh Forsyth Johnson. His book Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class & Urban Development in Charlotte 1875-1975 (UNC Press) traced the surprising history of racial and economic segregation in Charlotte. He writes a regular column “Food from Home” for the Charlotte Observer that uses foodways to spotlight the rapidly expanding international populations in the city. That has led him to explore “Salad Bowl Suburbs” — the intermingled geography of international entrepreneurs now popping up along aging suburban shopping strips in many U.S. cities. His writings are on-line at www.HistorySouth.org.
Tom earned degrees in history and urban studies from Cornell, University of Chicago and UNC Chapel Hill. Charlotte Magazine recently profiled him as “Charlotte’s Dr. History” and in 2015 named him a Charlottean of the Year. Tom@HistorySouth.org