rainville

Lynn Rainville, Ph.D.
Director of Institutional History and Museums
Professor of Anthropology
Washington & Lee University 

Lynn Rainville received her B.A. from Dartmouth College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. After 15 years as a university and college professor, Dr. Rainville founded an institute for public history and historic preservation at Sweet Briar College and, later, served as the Dean and chief academic officer. In 2019 she moved to Lexington to begin a new chapter in her career as the Director of Institutional History and the Museums at Washington and Lee University, where she is also a professor of Anthropology. 

She has spent the last two decades studying Virginia’s historic cemeteries, enslaved communities, segregated schools, poor farms, and its role in World War I. This research has been supported by multiple grants and published in dozens of articles and five books, including Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2014). Her most recent book, Invisible Founders: How Two Centuries of African American Families Transformed a Plantation into a College (Berghahn Press, 2019), is based on two decades of partnering with descendants of the enslaved community at the former Sweet Briar Plantation (now Sweet Briar College), local community members, archivists, and historians.