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The OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program

W. Jeffrey Bolster

W. Jeffrey BolsterLicensed for many years by the U.S. Coast Guard as Master of Vessels of not more than 200 gross registry tons, W. Jeffrey Bolster writes about people and the sea. A professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, he remains deeply concerned about the health of the ocean. Bolster's seafaring experience informed his first book, the prizewinning Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (1997), an epic tale of the rise and fall of black seafaring and the subject of a short documentary film, "The Scholar and the Sailor," commissioned by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2014. Bolster's latest book, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (2012), is an environmental history of overfishing and a parable about how humans use the earth. It won the John Lyman Book Award for American Maritime History, the OAH James A. Rawley Prize, the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Prize, and the Bancroft Prize. An occasional contributor to the New York Times and the Boston Globe, Bolster has also written numerous magazine features. Over the last four years he has logged over 12,000 miles in his Valiant 40, Chanticleer, between New England and the eastern Caribbean.