George and Ann RichardsCivil War Era Center

Colored Conventions
Richards Prize

Richards Prize

George and Ann RichardsThe Richards Prize for the best article in each volume year of The Journal of the Civil War Era is named in honor of George and Ann Richards. In 2002, the Richards made a spectacular contribution to Penn State’s Civil War Era Center, the editorial home of the journal, which provided the Center with a permanent source of income to fund scholarly research and outreach programs that advance our understanding of the Civil War era. This journal has been one of the beneficiaries of their generosity. The editors of the journal created the $1,000 Richards Prize in 2011 to recognize George and Ann Richards not only for their contribution to the center that now bears their name, but also to recognize their contributions to Civil War era scholarship generally.

Congratulations to the Winner of the 2021 George and Ann Richards Prize

Kimberly Welch’s article “The Stability of Fortunes: A Free Black Woman, Her Legacy, and the Legal Archive in Antebellum New Orleans” has been chosen as the recipient of the George and Ann Richards Prize for best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era by a prize committee drawn from the journal’s editorial board members. The article appeared in the December 2022 special issue, Archives and Nineteenth Century African American History, organized and guest-edited by Leslie M. Harris and Daina Ramey Berry. The $1,000 prize will be announced on the journal’s website and in the December 2023 issue.
The prize committee (Jameson Sweet, Erika Pani, and Wayne Hsieh) unanimously selected the article for the prize. The committee wrote, “A close analysis of a single court case in 1840s New Orleans, ‘The Stability of Fortunes’ sheds new light on African American women, property ownership, and race in the nineteenth century United States. Welch approaches the study through an examination of the court case and its related documents as an intentionally curated archive used and produced by Black Americans for their benefit. Welch reveals a fascinating story of how a successful Black businesswoman used her resources and intentionally created documents to defend and secure her estate for her mixed-race children. After the death of the man who had been her romantic partner for over fifty years, his unscrupulous relatives sought to use her race against her and her children to acquire her estate, yet through the intentional production of numerous documents over the course of her life, she successfully defended her property ownership in court. “The Stability of Fortunes” is an important contribution to the scholarship on free Black Americans and how they navigated American slave society. Welch concludes that a methodological approach in which court records are read as archives reveals strategies and ‘competing intentionalities of their curators’ in such a way that gives us a deeper understanding of these histories.”
Congratulations Professor Welch!

Past Winners

2021 – Cynthia Nicoletti, “William Henry Trescott: Pardon Broker,” Volume 11, no. 4 (December)

2020 – Catherine A. Jones, “The Trials of Mary Booth and the Post-Civil War Incarceration of African American Children,” Volume 10, Number 3 (September)

2019 – Caroline E. Janney, “Free to Go Where We Liked: The Army of Northern Virginia After Appomattox,” Volume 9, Number 1 (March)

2018 – Joshua A. Lynn, “A Manly Doughface: James Buchanan and the Sectional Politics of Gender,” Volume 8, Number 4 (December)

2017 – Sarah L. H. Gronningsater, “‘On Behalf of His Race and the Lemmon Slaves’: Louis Napoleon, Black Northern Legal Culture, and the Politics of Sectional Crisis,” Volume 7, Number 2 (June)

2016 – Mark E. Neely, Jr., “Guerrilla Warfare, Slavery, and the Hopes of the Confederacy,” Volume 6, Number 3 (September)

2015 – Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood, “‘We Do Not Care Particularly About the Skating Rinks’: African Americans Challenges to Racial Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation in Nineteenth-Century Boston, Massachusetts,” Volume 5, Number 2 (June)

2014 – Ted Maris-Wolf, “‘Of Blood and Treasure’: Recaptive Africans the Politics of Slave Trade Suppression,” Volume 4, Number 1 (March)

2013 – Thavolia Glymph, “Rose’s War and the Gendered Politics of a Slave Insurgency in the Civil War,” Volume 3, Number 4 (December)

2012 – Carole Emberton, “‘Only Murder Makes Men’: Reconsidering the Black Military Experience,” Volume 2, Number 3 (September)

2011 – Anne E. Marshall, “The 1906 Uncle Tom’s Cabin Law and the Politics of Race and Memory in Early Twentieth Century Kentucky,” Volume 1, Number 3 (September)

All winning articles are available in Project Muse. For more information, visit The Journal of the Civil War Era.