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Yale University: Finalists Announced for the 2009 Frederick Douglass Book Prize

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Press Release

nannyNew Haven, Conn., Jul 30, 2009 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) — MNCOF | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating — Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition has announced the finalists for the 11th Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, one of the most coveted awards for the study of the African-American experience.

The finalists are Thavolia Glymph for ‘Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household’ (Cambridge University Press); Annette Gordon-Reed, ‘The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family’ (W.W. Norton and Company); and Jacqueline Jones, ‘Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War ‘(Alfred A. Knopf Publishers).

The $25,000 annual award for the year’s best non-fiction book on slavery, resistance, and/or abolition is the most generous history prize in its field. The prize winner will be announced following the Douglass Prize Review Committee meeting in September, and the award will be presented at a dinner at the Yale Club of New York on February 25, 2010.

This year’s finalists were selected from a field of more than 50 entries by a jury of scholars that included Robert Bonner (Dartmouth College), Rita Roberts (Scripps College) and Pier Larson (Johns Hopkins University).

The Frederick Douglass Prize was established in 1999 to stimulate scholarship in the field by honoring outstanding accomplishments. Previous winners are Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan in 1999; David Eltis, 2000; David Blight, 2001; Robert Harms and John Stauffer, 2002; James F. Brooks and Seymour Drescher, 2003; Jean Fagan Yellin, 2004; Laurent Dubois, 2005; Rebecca J. Scott, 2006; Christopher Leslie Brown, 2007; and Stephanie Smallwood, 2008.

The award is named for Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the one-time slave who escaped bondage to emerge as one of the great American abolitionists, reformers, writers and orators of the 19th century.

Glymph’s ‘Out of the House of Bondage’ draws attention in a wholly new way to the strife between Southern plantation mistresses and the black women they enslaved, presenting a disturbing account of white cruelty and black resentment. In addition to re-connecting plantation mistresses to the systematic violence of slavery, Glymph documents how the social, political and economic

upheavals of emancipation spurred new opportunities and fostered recurrent conflicts.

Gordon Reed’s ‘The Hemingses of Monticello’ blends the best of recent slavery scholarship with commentary on the legal structure of Chesapeake society before and after the American Revolution. Its meticulous account of the mid-18th-century intertwining of the black Hemingses and white Wayles families provides a new perspective on Thomas Jefferson’s sexual exploitation of a young female slave who was his kin by marriage.

Jones’s ‘Saving Savannah’ charts a bustling city’s passage from slavery to freedom. Covering a 20-year span, the book tracks the fortunes of a host of characters, from fugitive slaves and their paternalist masters to black fire fighters and idealistic missionaries. Interwoven with the book’s narrative of personal relations and struggles is an account of Savannah’s social, political, religious and economic institutions, many of which were pioneered by a vibrant free black community in the antebellum period. The book also provides insight into how defeated Confederate whites regained a semblance of control over this majority-black city.

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, a part of The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, was launched in November 1998 through a generous donation by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Its mission is to promote the study of all aspects of slavery, especially the chattel slave system and its destruction. The Center seeks to foster an improved understanding of the role of slavery, slave resistance, and abolition in the founding of the modern world by promoting interaction and exchange between scholars, teachers and public historians through publications, educational outreach, and other programs and events.

CONTACT: Dorie Baker, Yale University Tel: +1 203 432 8553 Dana Schaffer, Yale University Tel: +1 203 432 3339 Fax: +1 203 432 6943 e-mail: gilder.lehrman.center@yale.edu

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