Columbia University Announces the Winners of the 2011 Bancroft Prize

Ourselves Unborn by Sara Dubow

The winners are Sara Dubow, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010); and Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). The winning works, while disparate in subject matter, demonstrate the powerful impact intensive research has when wound with eloquent interpretation and fluent prose.

One of the most prestigious awards in its field, the Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University.  Winners are judged in terms of the scope, significance, depth of research, and richness of interpretation they present in the areas of American History and Diplomacy.  Over 230 books published in 2010 were read and considered for the 2011 prize.

The Fiery Trial by Eric Foner

Columbia Provost Claude M. Steele will present the awards at a formal dinner next month, hosted by the Department of History and the University Libraries.  The Bancroft Prize, which includes an award of $10,000 to each author, is administered by University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services, James Neal.

“Historical scholarship, and academic book publishing, as evidenced by the quality and scope of this year’s Bancroft Prize nominations, is thriving. We applaud the excellence in research, writing, and thought demonstrated by the 2011 winners,” Neal said.

Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America is Sara Dubow’s first book.  She is Assistant Professor of History at Williams College.

Freedom Bound by Christopher Tomlins

Eric Foner, author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. This is Foner’s twenty-second book and second Bancroft Award; his work, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, won the 1989 award.

Christopher Tomlins is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine.  Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865 is his ninth book.

The Bancroft Prizes were established at Columbia University in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, a preeminent historian, librarian, author, and Columbia University lecturer.  It is considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of history. For a list of past winners, please visit The Bancroft Prizes: Previous Awards.

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