Dr. Lisa Phillips

Dr. Lisa Phillips
Assc Prof & Fac Ombuds
History, Department of
Arts and Sciences, College of
SH 321
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  • Ph.D. - U.S. Labor, Women, African American History, Rutgers - 2002
  • M.A. - U.S. Labor, Women's History, Purdue - 1993
  • B.A. - Psychology, Purdue - 1991

Professional Webpage

Dr. Lisa A.W. Phillips holds a PhD in History from Rutgers University, and an MA and BA from Purdue University. She specializes in US labor history, has published a book and several articles and is hard at work on her second book, a labor history of Disney. She has been teaching US History at Indiana State University since 2003. Her courses including Labor History, History of Capitalism (in the US), History through Disney, US Women's History, and African American History. Professor Phillips spends her time with her two great kids, her two dogs, and a cat. When she's not reading, grading, or hanging out with her kids, she's swimming, running, biking, kayaking, or going out to breakfast!

Awards and Honors

  • Foundational Studies Teaching Award - 2019

Licensures and Certifications


  • Reckless Bandon hired me from April-August 2021 to provide information related to wage inequality at Disney for their upcoming documentary. They filmed me and my History Through Disney class as part of the documentary in the fall of 2019. - Reckless Bandon Productions (Abigail Disney) - 2021

Teaching Interests

  • Lisa Phillips teaches U.S. Labor, Women's, and African-American history with emphases on political and economic history. She enjoys teaching both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Intellectual Contributions

  • Mickey Goes to Haiti and Leaves: Disney's Transnational Quest for Cheap Labor in the Post Cold War Era - International Labor and Working Class History, Cambridge University Press - 2022
  • The Wonderful World of Service Work: Walt Disney and the Advent of Performance Labor - University of Illinois Press, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
  • "When CEOs Were Removable: A Short History of Corporate Regulation" - Journal of Labor and Society, New York, NY - 2018
  • "A Renegade Union: Organizing in the Service and Distribution Industries" - Working USA: The Jounral of Labor and Society - 2012

Research Interests

  • Lisa Phillips' first book examined the history of a New York City-based labor union that organized people who worked in small warehouse and distribution centers and in the wholesale and retail industries. The union organized the people "nobody else wanted," meaning the people "bigger" labor unions did not focus on. Jewish, Puerto Rican, Italian, and African-American men and women all found homes and respect in the union, respect they often didn't get on the job. The union, District 65, was ahead of its time not only in its inclusive approach but also because organized labor is now using similar tactics to organize low-wage service and warehouse workers. Phillips' current project is a labor history of Walt Disney and looks at the history of "performance labor" and customer service.

University Service

  • Role: Chair - Faculty Ombuds 2022 - 2025

Professional Service

  • Role: Board of Directors of a Company - Eugene V. Debs Foundation 2017

Professor Phillips is originally from Chicago, Illinois but has lived several places including Indianapolis, West Lafayette, parts of New York and New Jersey, and in Madison, Wisconsin.  She and her husband live in Terre Haute where they are raising two wonderful children. 

History Through Disney
History of Capitalism (U.S.)
History of Women and Gender (U.S)
History of Work and Leisure (U.S.)
Labor History (U.S.)
History of the Cold War (U.S. focused)
African American History
History of Race and Ethnicity (U.S.)

Dr. Phillips earned a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University in 2002, an MA in History from Purdue (1993), and a BA in Psychology (1991), also from Purdue.

Prof. Phillips' first book manuscript, A Renegade Union:  Interracial Organizing and Labor Radicalism was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2013. It's about about labor unions that worked to improve the economic status of African-American, Jewish, and recent immigrants (Italian, Puerto Rican), men and women, in New York City and beyond n the mid-twentieth century.

Her second book, now underway, is a labor history of Disney entitled, The Wonderful World of Service Work:  Walt Disney and the Advent of Performance Labor is under contract and expected in 2021.  She is very enthused about the project and will talk to you about anything Disney and work related!

Most recently, Prof. Phillips published an article in The Journal ​of Labor and Society entitled, “‘When CEOs Were Removable:  A Short History of Corporate Regulation" (Fall 2017) and other of her work has appeared in Jacobin Magazine and the Labor and Working Class History Association's Labor Online.

Prof. Phillips was elected to the board of the Labor and Working Class History Association (2018-2021), serves on the board of the Eugene V. Debs Association (since 2014), and is active in the Terre Haute Torpedoes swimming community.

Prof Phillips' expertise covers the 20th century United States with emphases on labor, class, race, and gender.

Prof. Phillips' research interests currently focus on Disney, specifically the history of work and wages there and on Disney's influence on the service and hospitality industries since the 1950s.