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Congratulations to Alaina E. Roberts!

Congratulations to Alaina E. Roberts, the Richards Center 2017/2018 Postdoctoral Fellow, who has accepted a Dietrich Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh!

This Penn State scholar makes the battlefield come alive

BTN LiveBIG By John Tolley

Musket balls and bullets sing as they hurtle through the low smoke and dust. Trees explode. Cavalry horses breathe hard, final breaths and collapse beneath their captains. Men do the same. All the while, a distant bugle and drum sound commands.

The haze of the battlefield takes a long while to lift. Sometimes it never does. For combatants, memories of how, when and why events transpired and who was where when can diverge wildly. But painting an accurate account of a particular battle is important for a number of reasons, chief among them the toll skirmishes take on the outcome of history.

That’s the prime motivator for Carol Reardon, the George Winfree Professor Emerita of American History at Penn State, who first visited the site of the Battle of Gettysburg when she was ten years old.

“There’s something about seeing the artillery on the ground,” explains Reardon. “There’s something about thinking about what the soldiers here went through. There is something about just reflecting on the pain and the anguish, but also reflecting on the causes for which they were trying to fight. Modern America is what it is because of the things that happened here on this battlefield.”

Reardon had family on both sides of the battle. Her great-great-great uncles fought on Little Round Top. A southern ancestor laid down his life as part of the ill-fated maneuver known as Pickett’s Charge. The location fills her, she notes, with overwhelming sadness and awe at the events that transpired.

The full article and video can be viewed on the Big Ten Network.

Call for Papers: Inaugural Anthony Kaye Memorial Essay Award

Call for Papers: Inaugural Anthony Kaye Memorial Essay Award

Anthony E. Kaye, 1962–2017

The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, the Society of Civil War Historians and The Journal of the Civil War Era invite submissions from early career scholars (doctoral candidates at the writing stage and PhDs not more than two years removed from having earned their degree) for the inaugural Anthony Kaye Memorial Essay Award. Papers on any topic concerning the history of the Civil War era, broadly defined, will be considered.

The winning submission will earn the author a $1,000 award and an additional $500 travel stipend to the Society of Civil War Historians biennial conference in 2020 where the award will be presented. Authors must be willing to attend the conference in order to be eligible for the award. The winning essay also will be eligible for publication in the December 2020 issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era.

Submission information: The submission deadline is June 1, 2019. Submissions should be sent to the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center ( with the subject line “Anthony Kaye Memorial Essay Award.” Submissions should be double-spaced and not exceed 10,000 to 11,000 words, including notes. The award committee prefers submissions written according to The Chicago Manual of Style. The winning essay will be selected by a three-person panel chosen by the JCWE editor.

The award honors Anthony Kaye (1962-2017), a pioneering scholar of slavery at Penn State University and the National Humanities Center. Tony was an active member of the Society of Civil War Historians and one of the founding editors of The Journal of the Civil War Era. This award honors his passion for putting scholars in disparate fields in conversation with each other to enrich our understanding of the past.

Crystal Sanders Named New Director of Africana Research Center

Dr. Crystal SandersCrystal Sanders, associate professor of History and African American Studies, has been chosen to become the new director of Penn State's Africana Research Center (ARC). She will assume the directorship July 1. The ARC supports research into the lives and experiences of Africans across Africa and in the African diaspora across the globe, deepening and broadening Penn State's teaching and outreach missions. Dr. Sanders first came to Penn State as a postdoctoral fellow in the ARC and has been an affiliate of the center since joining the Penn State faculty in 2012. She is also one of the organizers of the Richards Center's annual Emerging Scholars Undergraduate Mentoring Program, which helps to prepare talented scholars from under-represented backgrounds for graduate study and careers in the academy. You can read more about the ARC and Dr. Sanders' scholarly mission by following this link.

Congratulations to Andrew Lang – Winner of the 2018 Tom Watson Brown Book Award!

The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson–Brown Foundation are proud to announce that Andrew Lang is the recipient of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Dr. Lang, Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University, earned the award for In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America, which was published in 2017 by the Louisiana State University Press. The $50,000 award is funded by the Watson-Brown Foundation in honor of the broadcaster, philanthropist, and Civil War enthusiast Tom Watson Brown. The prize committee praised the book as “one of the very best examples of a social-cultural history of the army to be done for the Civil War,” one that “makes good use of cultural, social, and political history, as well as military theory.” In the Wake of War examines American military occupations from the U.S.-Mexican War through the Civil War and Reconstruction from the perspective of the occupying troops. It argues that the volunteers of the Civil War era typically perceived occupation duty as antithetical to their republican values as citizen-soldiers. Lang painstakingly shows how such duty forced soldiers to confront a host of critical problems in this period, such as the relationship between citizen and government, the complications of race and emancipation in a white democracy, and the intricate negotiation of gender roles in occupied communities, to name just a few. The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson-Brown Foundation will present the Tom Watson Brown Book Prize to Dr. Lang at the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama in November.

Snyder Wins 2018 Francis Parkman Prize

McCabe Greer Professor of History Christina Snyder has won the 2018 Francis Parkman Prize for Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers & Slaves in the Age of Jackson (Oxford University Press, 2017). The Society of American Historians has awarded the Parkman Prize annually since 1957 to works of history published in the previous year that are distinguished by their literary merit. The Francis Parkman Prize is named for the nineteenth century historian whose books The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life (1849) and France and England in North America (7 vols., 1865–92) were considered to be among the first great literary works of history by an American scholar.

Great Crossings tells the story of the experimental, multicultural community of Great Crossings, Kentucky, where white settlers, Native Americans, and black slaves built a community around the country’s first federal Indian school. In the words of the prize committee, the book’s “powerful narrative…dramatically alters our understanding of Jacksonian borderlands even as it expands our picture of nineteenth-century American society writ large.” The committee also praises Snyder for crafting “a narrative that is both strongly grounded and sweepingly significant, moving from telling detail to historiographical intervention while maintaining the interpretive, analytical, and theoretical insight that marks the best historical writing.” The $2,000 Parkman Prize is one of the oldest and most prestigious book awards in the field of American history. Past winners include such eminent historians as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Willie Lee Rose, Eric Foner, and Drew Gilpin Faust.