Publication Date

March 1, 2004

The Awards for Scholarly Distinction

In 1984 the Council of the American Historical Association established the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction. Each year a nominating jury, composed of the president, president-elect, and immediate past president, recommends to the Council of the Association up to three names for the award. Nominees are senior historians of the highest distinction in the historical profession who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in the United States. Previous awards have gone to Nettie Lee Benson, Woodrow Borah, Alfred D. Chandler Jr., Angie Debo, Helen G. Edmonds, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Felix Gilbert, John Whitney Hall, Tulio Halperín-Donghi, John Higham, H. Stuart Hughes, Margaret Atwood Judson, Nikkie R. Keddie, George F. Kennan, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Gerhart B. Ladner, Gerda Lerner, Ramsay MacMullen, Ernest R. May, Arno J. Mayer, Richard P. McCormick, August Meier, Edmund Morgan, George L. Mosse, Robert O. Paxton, Earl Pomeroy, H. Leon Prather Sr., Benjamin Quarles, Edwin O. Reischauer, Robert V. Remini, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Caroline Robbins, Carl E. Schorske, Benjamin I. Schwartz, Kenneth M. Setton, Kenneth M. Stampp, Chester G. Starr, Barbara and Stanley Stein, Lawrence Stone, Sylvia L. Thrupp Strayer, Merze Tate, Emma Lou Thornbrough, Brian Tierney, Eugen Weber, Gerhard Weinberg, and George R. Woolfolk.

Joining the distinguished list this year are Thomas D. Clark (Univ. of Kentucky), Peter Gay (Yale Univ.), and Wallace T. MacCaffrey (Harvard Univ.).

President-elect Jonathan Spence read the following citations at the General Meeting.

Born before the Wright Brothers took their first flight, Thomas D. Clark has seen vast changes occur in American life. In the area of history, he has deeply influenced many of those changes himself, particularly in the fields of southern and frontier history.

His first monograph appeared in 1933; a university press published his most recent book in 2002. In between those dates, Tom Clark has written or edited more than 30 additional works, virtually all of them outstanding examples of his view that historians must tell an engaging, important, and readable story, accessible to all.

His writing and research skills emerged early, for he was among the first and best of a new historical generation who chronicled the changing cultural, economic, and political aspects of the South. Whether in specialized works such as Pills, Petticoats, and Plows: The Southern Country Store (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1944) and The Southern Country Editor (The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1948), or broader surveys, includingThe Emerging South (Oxford Univ. Press, 1961), The South Since Appomattox: A Century of Regional Change (Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), and The Greening of the South: The Recovery of Land and Forest (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1984), his prose has, for decades, shaped critical thinking about that region. Similarly, he has published seminal studies of the early frontier, such as The Rampaging Frontier: Manners and Humors of Pioneer Days in the South and Middle West (The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1939) and Frontier America: The Story of the Westward Movement (Scribner, 1959).

During those years, Clark also worked to strengthen his chosen profession, serving as president of the Southern Historical Association, Phi Alpha Theta, and the Organization of American Historians (OAH), and as editor of the Journal of Southern History and executive editor of the OAH in the 1950s.

In addition, long before there was common usage of the term "public history," Clark focused his efforts on that field as well, and he proved to be a pivotal figure in the creation of numerous research and publishing institutions in Kentucky. That work caused the state legislature to name him the commonwealth's first, and only, Historian Laureate for Life. Since his supposed retirement at age 65, Clark has written or edited some 20 books, while still speaking to groups across America as he takes Clio's message to new listeners. He remains an example to us all for his productive longevity. But more than that, he stands as a model historian, leader, advocate, teacher, and person. Tom Clark continues to remind us what historians should be, and what they should do.

Peter Gay is an homme de lettres of rare distinction, and a historian of perhaps unparalleled productivity. The range of his scholarly achievements is truly remarkable. From his early work, The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein's Challenge to Marx (Columbia Univ. Press, 1952), to his magnificent biography of Freud (Norton, 1988) and his five-volume history of the bourgeoisie, The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud (Oxford Univ. Press, 1984–98), which included The Education of the Senses and The Cultivation of Hatred, his brilliantly crafted books have become an important part of our knowledge and appreciation of modern European history. Gay’s Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (Harper & Row, 1968) is a classic, and his two-volume essay on the Enlightenment—The Rise of Modern Paganism (Knopf, 1966) and The Science of Freedom (Knopf, 1969)—still inspires scholars. It was Peter Gay who called for a social history of ideas, a call that has brought us some of the most significant work in European history in the last 20 years. His recent autobiographical book, My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin (Yale Univ. Press, 1998), an unfailingly perceptive and moving account of a childhood in interwar Berlin, is a book that can be read and re-read. Gay came to the United States via Havana, mastered a language that was not originally his own, and became one of the great stylists in English in our (or for that matter, any other) profession. Gay has won many major awards, from the National Book Award to a prize from the Dutch Academy in Amsterdam. He is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished historians of modern times.

Peter Gay incarnates the life of the mind. At Yale University, from which he retired in 1993 as Sterling Professor of History, and earlier at Columbia University, he was an invariably helpful colleague and mentor to generations of graduate and undergraduate students. Prolific scholar of truly international reputation, it is highly appropriate that Peter Gay receive the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction.

Wallace T. MacCaffrey, who graduated from Reed College in 1942 and received his PhD in history from Harvard University in 1950, has been one of the leading scholars in early modern British history for more than 50 years. His exemplary teaching career, during which he opened a host of undergraduate and graduate students to the pleasure as well as the rigor and discipline of historical scholarship, brought him first to UCLA and then to Haverford College, before he joined the Harvard University Department of History in 1968. Widely acknowledged as a figure of towering stature in his field, he has brought great intellectual rigor, clarity of vision and exposition, and an ever-deepening maturity to the study of Tudor, and particularly Elizabethan, history. His work in its intellectual coherence, thoroughness, and accessibility represents the highest standards in historical writing.

His first book, Exeter, 1540–1640: The Growth of an English Country Town (Harvard Univ. Press, 1958), set the agenda for subsequent work in early modern English urban history and remains a model for all similar studies. After publishing it, MacCaffrey set off on a new course, one that has occupied him ever since in his books, articles, essays, and numerous book reviews. In three magisterial volumes devoted to the grand themes of high politics and international affairs, he has focused on the importance of great matters of state in the history of the Elizabethan era, and on the significance of this period in the making of modern Britain and the modern state. The first of these major works, The Shaping of the Elizabethan Regime (Princeton Univ. Press, 1968), itself shaped the direction of all subsequent research about how England escaped the turmoil of the mid-Tudor crisis and built the political and governmental practices and personal loyalties on which its stability came to rest.

MacCaffrey stands out as a scholar whose moderation, judicious presentations, careful probing of the evidence, and great narrative skills transcend momentary academic battles and manifest wisdom and fair-mindedness in assessing historical arguments. He has conducted his life of selfless scholarship with generosity of spirit to students, to colleagues, and to fellow historians everywhere.

Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award

Established in 1986, the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching and advocacy for history teaching at two-year, four-year, and graduate colleges and universities, by commending an inspiring teacher whose pedagogical techniques and mastery of subject matter make a lasting impression and substantial difference to students of history. The prize is named for the late Eugene Asher who was for many years a leading advocate for history teaching. The Society for History Education (SHE) shares with the AHA sponsorship of the award. Members of the AHA and SHE submit nominations to the Committee on Teaching Prizes.

The 2003 honoree is Orville Vernon Burton, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The committee recognized Professor Burton’s international reputation as a dedicated scholar, teacher, mentor, and history curriculum innovator. His research, teaching, and mentoring have enthused and inspired hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. Believing passionately “that history is a way of life, a way of making sense of the world and of oneself,” Professor Burton has distinguished himself as a scholar, with over 100 articles and as the author and editor of seven books, as well as a teacher who brings his scholarship into the classroom.

Beveridge Family Teaching Award

Established in 1995, this prize honors the Beveridge family's long-standing commitment to the AHA and to K–12 teaching. Friends and family members endowed this award to recognize excellence and innovation in elementary, middle, and secondary school history teaching, including career contributions and specific initiatives. The individual can be recognized either for individual excellence in teaching or for an innovative initiative applicable to the entire field. It is offered on a two-cycle rotation: in even-numbered years, to an individual; in odd-numbered years, to a group. The prize was first offered in 1996, and in 2003 it is awarded to a group of teachers.

President-elect Spence announced that the eighth award went to Ruth Johnson and Maxine Trotter, teachers at DeMores Elementary School in Medora, North Dakota. Members of the prize committee note that Ms. Johnson and Ms. Trotter have taught at many grade levels including combination classrooms and rural K–12 school settings. The exemplary teachers practice innovative strategies, using a variety of teaching methods and techniques stimulating student interest and addressing learning styles of all students. They have been state leaders in the National History Day competition. Their leadership, drive for excellence, dedication to parental and community involvement in the educational experience, love of teaching, and love for their students make them an ideal choice for this award.

William Gilbert Award

Named in memory of William Gilbert, a longtime AHA member and distinguished scholar-teacher at the University of Kansas, the biennial Gilbert Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching of history through the publication of journal and serial articles. The prize was endowed by a generous gift from Mrs. Gilbert. Pieces written by members of the AHA and published in the United States during the two years previous to the award are eligible for consideration. Also, journals, magazines, and other serials that publish works on the teaching of history, including methodology and pedagogical theory, may submit nominations.

The 2003 Gilbert Award was presented to Carl Guarneri (Saint Mary’s Coll. of California) for his article “Internationalizing the United States Survey Course: American History for a Global Age,” The History Teacher 36:1 (November 2002): 37–64.

The committee's citation reads: "Guarneri's article makes an eloquent plea for internationalizing the U.S. history survey. The committee believes that Guarneri's outstanding essay offers scholars and teachers a comprehensive historiographic overview of internationalizing trends in the U.S. history survey course as well as new ways of conceptualizing comparative studies, chronology, periodization, and deperiodization. The essay offers systemic approaches—world-systems theory, large geographic units, or comparative analysis—to incorporate internationalism into the overall structure using theory or particular themes as an organizing structure."

John E. O’Connor Film Award

In recognition of his exceptional role as a pioneer in both teaching and research regarding film and history, the American Historical Association established this award in honor of John E. O'Connor of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The award recognizes outstanding interpretations of history through the medium of film or video. Essential elements are stimulation of thought, imaginative use of the media, effective presentation of information and ideas, sensitivity to modern scholarship, and accuracy. The production should encourage viewers to ask questions about historical interpretations as well as make a contribution to the understanding of history.

The 10th O'Connor Award was presented to The Intolerable Burden (2002), produced by Constance Curry of Blue Stream Productions and directed by Chea Prince. The power of The Intolerable Burden comes from stories told by civil rights pioneer Mae Bertha Carter and her children, the first black children to enter the formerly all-white schools in Drew, Mississippi, in 1965. The film vividly demonstrates historical agency and the personal and institutional impact of historical events, as blacks and whites from the Delta reflect on their experiences with de-segregation and re-segregation. The Carter children’s subsequent divergent paths suggest the benefits and costs of the burden of their experience.

Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award

In recognition of Nancy Lyman Roelker's role as a teacher, scholar, and committee member of the historical profession, and on the occasion of her 75th birthday, friends, colleagues, and former students established the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award. The annual award recognizes and encourages a special quality exemplified by Professor Roelker through the human component in her teaching of history.

Mentoring should encompass not only a belief in the value of the study of history but also a commitment to and a love of teaching it to students regardless of age or career goals. Advising is an essential component, but it also combines a consistent personal commitment by the mentor to the student as a person. Offering a human alternative, frequently in quiet and unacknowledged ways, mentors like Professor Roelker believe that the essence of history lies in its human scope. With this award, the American Historical Association attests to the special role of mentors to the future of the historical profession.

The award is given on a three-cycle rotation to graduate, undergraduate, and secondary school teacher-mentors. Nominations for the 2003 prize were for graduate mentors. President-elect Spence announced that Thomas A. Brady (Univ. of California at Berkeley) was the recipient of the 12th annual Roelker Mentorship Award and read the selection committee’s citation: “Professor Brady stood out as the most extraordinary of the graduate mentors nominated for the 2003 honor. Building his life around mentoring, Brady has advised, directed, and encouraged his students, held regular impromptu seminars over meals, sent out numerous last minute recommendations, and provided detailed commentary on written work. He has built an international community of scholars in his field, which includes his graduate students as well young scholars from other institutions. Brady’s home, whether in Berkeley or abroad, has been a place of shelter and hospitality for students and unaffiliated scholars far and wide. Over the years, he has provided an astonishing level of intellectual, moral, and material support to younger scholars and for this reason we award him this year’s Roelker Prize.”

2003 Book Awards

At the annual meeting, the following prizes were announced for the year 2003. The prize citations are recorded below.

Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Terry Martin (Harvard Univ.) for The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Cornell Univ. Press, 2001). Formidably researched and cogently argued, Affirmative Action Empire tracks early Soviet efforts to build a new order and a political base by appealing to the minority peoples’ national sentiments and hunger for jobs. Terry Martin’s account of the shifts in policy and policing, and the rhetorical compromises, required to preserve the hegemony of the Communist Party and the primacy of the Russian people makes enthralling if sobering reading.

Prize in Atlantic History

John Ruston Pagan (Univ. of Richmond) for Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002). Pagan has used a fascinating and very human story of personal tragedy to highlight gender relations and the adaptation of English law to the colonies of early modern North America. Meticulous research has allowed him to chart the separation of the two systems of law and jurisprudence at the level of the local community in the new colonial environment. Pagan’s graceful use of postmodern theory will make it a welcome addition to critical readings courses.

George Louis Beer Prize

Timothy Snyder (Yale Univ.) for The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 (Yale Univ. Press, 2003). Timothy Snyder’s The Reconstruction of Nations is a major advance in the study of nationalism. Moving easily from the 16th century to the present, and among a dazzling array of multi-lingual sources, Snyder shows how multiple versions of national identity evolved and competed with each other in what are now Poland, Lithuania, Byelorussia, and Ukraine. Snyder’s work is a strikingly innovative contribution to the study of the trans-national elements in international history.

Albert J. Beveridge Award

Ira Berlin (Univ. of Maryland at College Park) for Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2003). In this masterful synthesis of the experience of African slaves in the United States, Berlin narrates the story of several emblematic generations of slaves from the perspective of the captives and the freedpeople themselves. Reinterpreting the antebellum expansion of slavery as a traumatic “Second Middle Passage,” he demonstrates how migration tore families apart and challenged slaves to accommodate and resist in novel ways. The book eloquently reveals the struggles through which slaves coped with, and challenged, the masters’ “irresistible force.”

James Henry Breasted Prize

David Lewis-Williams (Univ. of the Witwatersrand) for The Mind in the Cave (Thames & London, 2002). This bold and original study reconsiders the awe-inspiring cave art created in western Europe during the last Ice Age. It argues that Cro-Magnons possessed a higher consciousness than their Neanderthal neighbors, enabling them to experience shamanistic trances and mental imagery. Cro-Magnons painted images on cave walls, perceived to be the membrane between their own and the spirit worlds, a practice that enhanced social distinctions between individuals and groups. Lively and engaging, truly interdisciplinary and deeply thought-provoking, The Mind in the Cave will find a broad audience.

John H. Dunning Prize

Michael Willrich (Brandeis Univ.) for City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003). Willrich’s history of the early years of the Chicago Municipal Court is far more than a case study of how Progressive-era reformers struggled to modernize criminal law. It is also a demonstration of how criminal “justice” helped articulate and transform liberalism. Willrich illuminates how reformers reconciled differing visions of justice and social control through an interventionist court. Gracefully written and carefully argued, this superb study offers insights into the complexities of liberal political authority, past and present.

John Edwin Fagg Prize

Richard Lee Turits (Univ. of Michigan) for Foundations of Despotism: Peasants, the Trujillo Regime, and Modernity in Dominican History (Stanford Univ. Press, 2003). InFoundations of Despotism, Richard Lee Turits masterfully tackles one of least understood historical issues in Latin America—the pervasiveness of long-term, brutal dictatorships and their paradoxical success in gathering popular support. By reconstructing the mechanisms through which the Trujillo regime gained hegemony over Dominican peasants, he reconceptualizes the peasantry as integral to the success of dictatorship. Theoretically sophisticated, thoroughly researched, and engagingly written, this book will have a lasting influence on the study of Latin American political cultures.

John K. Fairbank Prize

Norman Girardot (Lehigh Univ.) for The Victorian Translation of China: James Legge's Oriental Pilgrimage (Univ. of California Press, 2002). The Asias in our minds are held to historical accountability in Norman Girardot’s stunningly researched study. Girardot tracks James Legge through a long life of unremitting scholarly toil, guided by Chinese collaborators and commentators, to depths of appreciation of Chinese heritages that some Christians viewed as heretical. Generous in spirit, stimulating in surprising ways, this book turns our gaze back to a founding giant of Sinology and through Legge to our contemporary scholarly practices.

Herbert Feis Award

Julia E. Sweig (Council on Foreign Relations) for Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground (Harvard Univ. Press, 2002). Julia E. Sweig’s thoroughly researched and elegantly written volume challenges interpretations of the 1959 Cuban revolution across the political and historiographic spectrum. Juxtaposing heretofore inaccessible Cuban archives with multiple U.S. sources, Sweig exposes flaws both in Cuba’s national mythology and in the perceptions of the Cuban revolution developed abroad. She de-centers Fidel Castro from the revolution’s narrative and embeds the man and the M267 movement in a broad context. She consequently provides a textured view of revolutionary Cuba’s oppositional politics and the U.S. response.

Morris D. Forkosch Prize

Ethan H. Shagan (Northwestern Univ.) for Popular Politics and the English Reformation (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003). Moving brilliantly between broad historiographical debates and impressively wide-ranging archival research, Shagan’s book offers a nuanced view of how the English Reformation worked as an engagement between high and low, and between the state and the people. Equally at home in social, political, religious, and intellectual history, Shagan moves effortlessly across the 16th century to provide the single most important account of the process of Reformation in England published in the last twenty years.

Leo Gershoy Award

Joseph E. Inikori (Univ. of Rochester) for Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002). Inikori illuminates the role of Atlantic commerce in English industrialization. At the root of this connection, he finds African hands engaged in the production of commodities for international markets. Inikori undermines Eric Williams’s claim that profits from slavery, particularly the slave trade, fueled the industrial revolution. Rather, he depicts slavery as one of many sinews of a commercial revolution that framed and stimulated English manufacturing. Accordingly, Inikori’s magnificent study challenges both inward-looking and culturally centered models of the genesis of modern industrialization.

Joan Kelly Memorial Prize

Barbara Ransby (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) for Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2003). Ransby’s book paints a vivid portrait of the life of political activist Ella Baker. Best known for her role in the civil rights movement, where her leadership was often self-effacing, Baker was a radical democratic visionary and grass-roots organizer. Ransby’s biography of Baker examines African American struggles from 1930s Harlem to the mid-1980s and helps complete the “biography” of an era by giving us a sophisticated and detailed analysis of race, class, and gender in one of the most important social movements of the 20th century.

Littleton-Griswold Prize

Bruce H. Mann (Univ. of Pennsylvania) for Republic of Debtors: Bankruptcy in the Age of American Independence (Harvard Univ. Press, 2003). Bruce Mann’s beautifully crafted Republic of Debtors captures a conundrum at the heart of the Age of Independence: the Revolution celebrated ideals of manliness, freedom, and independence, yet debt and insolvency—the antithesis of these ideals—pervaded all levels of American society. By exploring the imagery and politics of bankruptcy and imprisonment for debt, Mann traces the contested, incomplete, but undeniable shift from a worldview in which debt signified moral failure to one in which it signified economic risk.

J. Russell Major Prize

Jessica Riskin (Stanford Univ.) for Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2002). Jessica Riskin’s Science in the Age of Sensibility reorients our understanding of the Enlightenment by showing the deep and thorough-going ambivalence about Reason in the 18th century. In this immensely learned book, Riskin brings 18th-century academic discourse and popular understanding together under the central rubric of “sentimental empiricism,” a term that conveys the centrality of emotional and moral understanding. This book is impressively multidisciplinary, spanning philosophy, politics, medicine, physics, and linguistics. Erudite, original, and convincing, it is without a doubt an important contribution to the historiography of the French Enlightenment.

Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize

David Freedberg (Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America) for Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2002). The remarkable images of plants and animals created for the Academy of the Linceans reveal in David Freedberg’s masterful analysis that scientific attempts to visualize what the microscope newly uncovered about the natural world provoked an intellectual crisis in natural history as profound as what the telescope produced in cosmology. Linking the history of art to the history of science, Freedberg opens new pathways into understanding Galilean science and the visual culture of early modern Italy.

George L. Mosse Prize

Sarah Maza (Northwestern Univ.) for The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850 (Harvard Univ. Press, 2003). Maza’s book creatively employs cultural and intellectual history to challenge long-standing assumptions about the rising influence of the “bourgeoisie” in modern France. This provocative “argument by hyperbole” shows how the French imagined a social group that never really existed as a coherent social class—though it became the much maligned “Other” in the creation of modern French political and cultural identities. Maza’s engaging, path-breaking essay is a bold example of how cultural history can bring new insights to the organizing paradigms of social and political history.

Wesley-Logan Prize

Leslie M. Harris (Emory Univ.) for In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626–1863 (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2003). Spanning 12 generations, In the Shadow of Slavery breathes life back into community studies and broadens the narrative of New York City’s working-class history. Harris accomplishes these notable feats by recognizing that neither the black community’s formation nor the city’s labor relations can be understood without recognizing the tensions between black slavery and white freedom. She illuminates how intraracial class dynamics and interracial conflict forged African American identity and shaped the struggle for universal freedom.

— is the AHA's convention director.

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