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.