President Barack Obama will present National Humanities Medals to historians David Brion Davis, Darlene Clark Hine, and Anne Firor Scott. All three honorees have served the Organization of American Historians (OAH) as president and are lifetime members. “We join all Americans in applauding the contributions these three individuals have made to their areas of research, and we thank them for their legacy of support to OAH,” said Patricia Limerick, OAH President.
Being recognized are:
David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of American History Emeritus at Yale University, and founder and Director Emeritus of Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Davis, a member of the OAH since 1956 and currently a lifetime member, served as OAH president from 1988-1989. He is being awarded the medal for “shedding light on the contradiction of a free Nation built by forced labor, and his examinations of slavery and abolitionism.” Upon recieving this recognition, Davis noted: “I am deeply honored to join two other OAH past presidents in recieving the National Humanities Medal.”
Darlene Clark Hine, Professor of African American Studies and Professor of History, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Hine served as OAH President from 2001-2002 and has served on numerous committees at the OAH. She has been a member since 1974 and also is a lifetime member of the organization. Hine is receiving the National Humanities Medal for “enriching our understanding of the African American experience. Through prolific scholarship and leadership, Dr. Hine has examined race, class, and gender and shown how the struggles and successes of African American women shaped the National we share today.” Named in her honor, the Darlene Clark Hine Award is given annually by the OAH to the author of the best book in African American women’s and gender history.
Anne Firor Scott, the W.K. Boyd Professor of History Emerita at Duke University. Scott, a member of OAH since 1970, served as its President from 1983-1984 and was awarded the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002. Each year, the OAH awards the Lerner-Scott Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. women’s history. The award is named after Scott and the late Gerda Lerner, a prominent women’s historian. The National Humanities Medal is being awarded to her for “pioneering the study of southern women. Through groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class, Dr. Scott’s uncharted exploration into the lives of southern women has established women’s history as vital to our understanding of the American South.” Scott is likewise a lifetime member of the OAH, having first joined the association in 1970.
Prior to traveling to the ceremony, Firor Scott recounted a story and valuable advice. Her daughter Rebecca Scott writes, “As you know, the large-scale drafting of men during World War II opened up unusual opportunities for women. In the summer of 1943, the 22-year-old Anne Firor, from Athens, Georgia, was among the 30 women and 5 men chosen for an internship sponsored by the National Institute for Public Affairs, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. They were to take on various tasks in the federal government in Washington, D.C., whose male population had been diminished by wartime service overseas. In the fall of 1943 Eleanor Roosevelt invited the group to the White House for conversation. Now, at age 93, Anne Firor Scott firmly reminds young women of the next generations: ‘Whenever someone opened a door of opportunity for me, I just stepped right through it.'”
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.” For more information on these awards, visit: http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2014-07-22.