University of Richmond professor Douglas Winiarski awarded 2018 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy

March 16, 2018

University of Richmond professor Douglas Winiarski, who teaches in the Department of Religious Studies and the American Studies program, has won a 2018 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy for his book, “Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England.”

Winiarski’s book, which was announced as a finalist for the 2018 George Washington Prize earlier this month, is one of three works that will be awarded the annual $10,000 Bancroft Prize by Columbia University next month. Nearly 250 finalists were considered for the prize.

The Bancroft Prize is one of the most prestigious honors in the field of American history. The books are judged in their scope, significance, depth of research and richness of interpretation.

By chronicling the religious beliefs, practices, and experiences of 18th century New Englanders through diaries, letters, devotional journals and other rare manuscript sources, “Darkness Falls on the Land of Light” highlights how evangelicalism emboldened ordinary people to question traditional authorities.

“Only a handful of books on American religious history have received this distinguished award,” Winiarski said. “It’s amazing to think that my scholarship now stands alongside works by the titans of early American history, many of which have played a formative role in my intellectual development.”

Winiarski will be the second UR Bancroft award-winner, joining former professor of history Woody Holton, who won the award in 2010. Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities Edward Ayers, also won a Bancroft Prize in 2004 while at the University of Virginia.

To learn more about Winiarski’s book visit

# # #