Monday, September 28, 2009

News---The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Goes To the Bank With $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize

Annette Gordon-Reed, Professor of Law at New York Law School, Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark, and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard University, has been selected as the winner of the 2009 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. Gordon-Reed won for her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. The prize is awarded by Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

In addition to Gordon-Reed, the other finalists for the prize were Thavolia Glymph for Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household and Jacqueline Jones for Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War. The $25,000 annual award is the most generous history prize in the field.

"In Annette Gordon Reed's The Hemingses of Monticello, an enslaved Virginia family is delivered -- but not disassociated -- from Thomas Jefferson's well-known sexual liaison with Sally Hemings," says Bonner, the 2009 Douglass Prize Jury Chair and Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth College. "The book judiciously blends the best of recent slavery scholarship with shrewd commentary on the legal structure of Chesapeake society before and after the American Revolution. Its meticulous account of the mid-eighteenth century intertwining of the black Hemingses and white Wayles families sheds new light on Jefferson's subsequent conjoining with a young female slave who was already his kin by marriage. By exploring those dynamic commitments and evasions that shaped Monticello routines, the path-breaking book provides a testament to the complexity of human relationships within slave societies and to the haphazard possibilities for both intimacy and betrayal."

Text Source: Gilder Lehrman Center and Institute. The Institute maintains two websites: and the quarterly online journal

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