John Hope Franklin & Yu Ying-shih: Two History Scholars Are to Split $1 Million Award

Historians in the News

Two historians, John Hope Franklin and Yu Ying-shih, will share this year’s $1 million John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity.

It’s the prize that Alfred Nobel forgot. In 2000 Mr. Kluge, the billionaire, gave $73 million to the Library of Congress for a scholarly center and other projects, which now include the million-dollar prize. The award was specifically intended for areas that the Nobel Prizes do not cover, like history, political science, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, religion, linguistics and criticism.

The prize is to be announced today in Washington.

Mr. Franklin, 91, is by far the better known, widely regarded as among the first scholars to explore fully the role of African-Americans in the nation’s history. The library’s announcement said that Mr. Franklin, emeritus professor of history at Duke University, demonstrated that “blacks were active agents in shaping their own and the nation’s history.” Until 1943, when Mr. Franklin published his first book, “The Free Negro in North Carolina,” historians had paid little attention to what was called “Negro history.” His 1947 book, “From Slavery to Freedom,” remains a landmark survey of the subject. Most recently, he has published a memoir, “Mirror to America.”

In an interview from Durham, N.C., Mr. Franklin said he was still somewhat “speechless” after learning of the award. At least some of the prize money, he said, would go to a fellowship at Fisk University in Nashville, which he endowed in memory of his wife, Aurelia, a librarian. The couple met at Fisk when she was 16 and he 17.

The library’s announcement calls the second winner, Mr. Yu, 76, “the most influential Chinese intellectual working in both the Chinese and American worlds.” Mr. Yu, emeritus professor of history and Chinese studies at Princeton, is an intellectual historian with a wide reach that spans Confucianism and the modern world.

He has been particularly interested in the way Chinese intellectuals have combined the religious and the secular, he said in an interview from his home in Princeton. “They have a moral, political, social purpose,” he said, “as compared to the West.” His most recent book is on the 12th-century Confucian scholar Zhu Xi, who has been compared to Thomas Aquinas. Zhu helped codify the Confucian canon and wrote extensive commentaries. ...

Read entire article at NYT

comments powered by Disqus