Distinguished Yale Historian Wins Award for Scholarly Distinction





David Brion Davis, a preeminent scholar of the history of slavery and abolition, was honored with an American Historical Association (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction at the recent annual meeting of the AHA in Atlanta.

One of the most respected historians in his field, Davis is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of History and the founding director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale.

Among the 18 books to his credit are “Slavery and Human Progress” (1984), “The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture,” for which he received the 1967 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution,” which earned a 1976 National Book Award, and most recently, “Inhuman Bondage, The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World” (2006). In addition to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Davis has been the recipient of the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes and the 2004 Society of American Historians’ Bruce Caton Prize for Lifetime Achievement. He is past president of the Organization of American Historians (1988–89).

The AHA Award for Scholarly Distinction has been given since 1984 to “senior historians of the highest distinction in the historical profession who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in the United States.”

The citation announcing Davis’ award reads in part: “Over the past half century, no scholar has played a larger role in expanding contemporary understanding of how slavery shaped the history of the United States, the Americas, and the world than David Brion Davis. . . .[He] writes comparative history that cuts across boundaries of time and space, and cultural history that explores the intersection of ideas and social context.… [H]is work has demonstrated the interconnectedness of historical experiences too often viewed in isolation. Moral imagination has animated all of David Brion Davis’s historical inquiries, which have been attuned to the ideological shifts that, in his words, might ‘enable human society to be something more than an endless contest of greed and power.’”



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