The Frederick Douglass Prize is awarded by Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center and recognizes the best book written on slavery, resistance, or abolition in the last year. From the press release:
Gilder Lehrman Center director David W. Blight commended the two books for the “breadth and depth of their scholarship and sensitive treatment of human-centered struggles for emancipation.” Jury chair Kerry Ward added that, in combination, the “compelling writing” of the winning books helps readers understand “the diversity of the experiences of slavery in different times and places,” with people centered at the heart of these stories.
Simon Newman's book is Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London, and is available from the University of Chicago Press. Scars on the Land: An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South, by Dr. David Silkenat of the University of Edinburgh, was also shortlisted for this year's prize, and is available from Oxford University Press.
I am delighted to announce that Happy Dreams of Liberty has been awarded the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Book Prize from the American Society for Legal History. I've always conceptualized this book as a family history first and foremost, so to be counted among legal historians is an honor.
Throughout the research and writing process for this book, I faced the same challenges that any historian of slavery faces: the difficulty of finding the voices and experiences of enslaved people in the archive. In this case, I used a legal archive. It's a family history told through wills, inventories, financial statements, and depositions. (Word to the wise: depositions are where you find all the juicy gossip.) I tried to use these legal sources as creatively as I could to reconstruct the lives of the Townsend family in slavery and the ways that the law shaped the possibilities for their lives in freedom.
This week, The Daily Princetonian (Princeton University's campus newspaper) published an article recognizing the 10-year anniversary of The Princeton & Slavery Project -- which means it's my 10-year work anniversary too. I've been involved with the project since it was founded as a single undergraduate research seminar taught by Princeton history professor Martha Sandweiss, first as a researcher and writer and now the project's editor and project manager.
From that first course in 2013, the project has expanded into a major digital history initiative, with all of our findings fully accessible to the public on our website. There, you'll find a digital archive of 400+ primary sources and more than 100 interpretive essays investigating Princeton University's historical links to the institution of slavery.