OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

William G. Thomas III

Portrait of William G. Thomas III
Image Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

William G. Thomas III is the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of "A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation's Founding to the Civil War" (2020). He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Lincoln Prize Finalist. He was a co-founder and director of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. He is currently producing a series of animated historical films at Animating History.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture explores the burst of freedom suits in the years that followed the American Revolution when enslaved families took slaveholders to court and won. Long before the Dred Scott decision, Black families in Washington, D.C., filed more than five hundred freedom suits, each a dramatic contest over whether slavery was legitimate in American law or not.
In November 1815, an enslaved woman from Prince George's County leapt from the third-floor window of the slave jail at George Miller’s F Street tavern in Washington, D.C. This 11 minute award-winning film reconstructs her story based on the available documentary evidence. Thomas co-produced "Anna." In a brief lecture he discusses the making of the film and the current scholarship of slavery and freedom-making in U.S. history. For a preview, go to "Anna."
In this lecture, Thomas focuses on how to integrate digital sources, digital projects, and digital scholarship into teaching at all levels. He offers several models of pedagogical innovation from the survey course to the seminar and shows how students can become critical producers of scholarship in the digital medium.