From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Turley, Alicestyne

Alicestyne Turley, a historian and educator  born in Hazard, KY, is the daughter of Alberta Williams Turley and Floyd Daniel Turley, Sr.

Dr. Turley began her education at the University of Toledo as a Communication major, deciding after two years that she wanted to pursue a different field. She stayed in Toledo and working in a variety of jobs, including a position with Toledo's Economic Opportunity Association and as the African American secretary to the Toledo City Council. She later was the first African American to serve as secretary to the mayor.

Returning to Kentucky to work with the Lexington Human Rights Commission, she soon returned to school at Georgetown College, where she earned B.A. degrees in Anthropology and Sociology in 1994. She also founded the Underground Railroad Research Institute (UGRRI) in 2001 at Georgetown College, serving as its director.

As a child, Turley had been told stories about her great-grandfather Moses escaping from slavery via the Underground Railroad and then helping others escape through the Underground Railroad. Turley’s Bachelor Honors Thesis was built on research about her great-grandfather's role and the Underground Railroad.

Turley then attended the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University (MSU) where she earned her Master's in Public Policy and Administration in 1996 and was also an intern for the Mississippi Municipal Association on public policy implementation.

Again returning to Kentucky, Turley attended the University of Kentucky where she earned both her History M.A. (2000) and Ph.D. (2009).

In Aug. 2009, Dr. Turley became an assistant professor of Pan-American Studies at the University of Louisville,  where she served as director of the Underground Railroad Research Program and as a Commissioner on the Louisville Landmarks Commission.  

She also worked with the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office and developed the Underground Railroad Research Model for the State of Kentucky at the request of the National Park Service.

Dr. Turley was the founding director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education at Berea College beginning in 2012, where she was an associate professor of African and African-American Studies until her retirement. She also served as the director of the  Black Cultural Center.

Alicestyne Turley has been involved in a large number of organizations, presentations and activities. In 2015, she was appointed to the Executive Council of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), in Washington, D.C. That same year, Kentucky Governor Steven Brashear appointed Turley to the Governing Board of the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage (KCAAH) in Louisville. She has also been involved in a Research Partnership with York University's Harriet Tubman Research Institute; and served on the Southeast Region National Park Service Underground Railroad Advisory Committee and the Regional Advisory Committee of the  International Network to Freedom Association.

In 2020 she became the Director, of the Freedom Stories Project, part of the International Storytelling Center.

For more information, see Jay Buckner, "Dr. Alicestyne Turley: Looking Back, Moving Forward," Dec. 17, 2013, at the Berea College website; Tim Jordan, "Dr. Alicestyne Turley of Berea Appointed to Boards of National and State Organizations," Jan. 11, 2016, on the Berea College website; Becky Campbell, "Emancipation Saturday Set for Panel Discussion," Aug. 8, 2020, at the Johnson City Press website; and Tim Jordan, "Berea Recognized in Kentucky House of Representatives," Feb. 25, 2019, at the Berea College website.

See Dr. Turley's Ph.D. dissertation, Spirited Away: Black Envangelicals and the Gospel of Freedom, 1790-1890 at UKnowldege; her publications Rosenwald Schools in Kentucky, 1917-1932 and Rosenwald Schools in Kentucky: Exhibit Guide; and her presentation, "Marietta, Ohio: American Reform History (Ohio's First City: The Land of Reformers)," Feb. 16, 2021, on YouTube.


Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Turley, Jack C.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Turley, Alicestyne,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 25, 2022,

Last modified: 2021-11-09 20:45:44