Edward Ayers, Tucker Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond has been awarded the 2018 Avery O. Craven Award for his book, “The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.”

The award, which recognizes the most original book on the coming of the Civil War, the Civil War years or the Era of Reconstruction, is presented annually by the Organization of American Historians. Ayers was recognized at the organization’s annual meeting in Sacramento on April 13.

“Ayers has once again offered a master class in storytelling," said Earl Lewis, president of the Organization of American Historians. “As the prize committee made clear, he has elongated the traditional narrative arcs of both the Civil War and of Reconstruction and convincingly and elegantly demonstrated how the issues raised by the war took decades to fully unfold.”

“The Civil War still reverberates through our society,” said Ayers. “We will always struggle with the profound issues brought by that war and by the end of slavery in our nation. I’m grateful that my fellow historians thought my book had something new to say on these perennial issues.”

April proves to be a busy month for Ayers as he will also be awarded the 2018 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Ayers will accept the $50,000 prize for his work at an event on April 26.

Ayers has also been awarded the Bancroft Prize and Beveridge Award for other books on the Civil War.

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School of Arts and Sciences

Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus
The Civil War
Digital Humanities