You are here


Ira Berlin, distinguished university professor in the Department of History, has been named one of the two recipients of the American Historical Association’s (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction. This annual award honors senior historians for their lifetime achievement in the discipline and is considered "one of the highest honors a historian in the United States can receive.” Berlin was recommended to AHA’s council by a nominating jury consisting of the organization's past president, president and president-elect.

Berlin's work focuses on American history, particularly the history of slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries. Published in 1974 his first book, “Slaves Without Masters: The Negro in the Antebellum South,” won the National Historical Society's Best First Book Prize. His most recent book published this year, “The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States,” was recently reviewed by The New York Times.

Founding editor of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project, Berlin helped bring the story of African slavery in the United States by creating a multi-volume documentary on the history of the emancipation—a project for which he was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government; the J. Franklin Jameson Prize of the American Historical Association for outstanding editorial achievement; and the Abraham Lincoln Prize for excellence in Civil-War studies of the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute of Gettysburg College.

His study of African-American life between 1619 and 1819, “Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in Mainland North America,” was awarded the Bancroft Prize for the best book in American history by Columbia University, the Frederick Douglass Prize by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the Owsley Prize by the Southern Historical Association and the Rudwick Prize by the Organization of American Historians.

In 2014, he was awarded the W.E.B. Dubois Medal by Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Berlin will be honored at a ceremony at the 130th Annual Meeting of the AHA in Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 7-10, 2016.