The Bancroft Prize, the equivalent of the Academy Awards for historians is organized by the trustees of Columbia University in New York every year to encourage publication of books about diplomacy or areas  of American history. Its name comes from the historian Frederic Bancroft who was a lecturer at Columbia and then who worked as Librarian of the State Department from 1888 to 1892.  In 1948 Columbia university decided to establish the Bancroft Prize in honor of his memory and that of his brother, diplomat and attorney Edgar Addison Bancroft. Considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of history, it comes with a $10,000 stipend and much appreciated publicity for the authors works’. Seventeen winners have had their work supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and 16 winners were also recipients of the Pulitzer Prize for History.

This year’s winners are Anne F. Hyde (professor at Colorado College)  for “Empires Nations and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860”; Daniel T. Rodgers (professor at Princeton University)  for “Age of Fracture,” an intellectual history of 1970s and 1980s America; and Tomiko Brown-Nagin (professor at the University of Virginia Law School) for “Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement.” Out of the 175 books nominated, these works reflected the scope, significance, depth of research, and richness of interpretation in addition to the originality of conception which best  the scholarly trends of the day and what people are interested in reading. The ceremony will take place at Columbia University next month and the award will be delivered by James G. Neal the University Librarian and vice President for Information Services. He said “Historical scholarship with innovative and rigorous re-examinations and exciting boundary challenges, as evidenced by the content and scope of this year’s Bancroft Prize winners, is so worthy of our celebration and recognition. We applaud the excellence in research, writing and thought demonstrated by the three works selected this year.”….

Listen to Tomiko Brown-Nagin talking about her book “Courage to Dissent”:

For past winners go to Book Corner. Click on the book title and you will get the description and price of the book (through Amazon.com). Just reading the descriptions will give you a good idea of American History! Go to American Icons at Debby’s Corner to start brushing up on your knowledge of American history and the people who shaped our culture and institutions (under construction). Knowledge is power and can shape our future!


    • I’m so glad I could be of help. We must have been thinking the same thing at the same time. Reading what you have to say encourages me to continue. I just wish I had 48 hours in a day!


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