March 26-April 8, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 6
Back Issues
Someone else’s shoes
Fraser answers call
Research week showcases students’ work
Headlines @ U.Va.
Conference to examine where the arts belong
Ayers wins Bancroft Prize
Davis Parker’s Magnum Opus
Move over, Sigmund
Emily Couric’s political papers now part of U.Va. library collection
‘Telling Moments’ project aids high school Spanish teachers
Expert to discuss new findings on equity in higher education
Students, employees give back to community

Ayers wins Bancroft Prize
Book makes connections between home front and battlefront

Edward Ayes
Photo by Stephanine Gross
Edward Ayers

Staff Report

Edward Ayers, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, has received a 2004 Bancroft Prize for his book, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863” (W.W. Norton, 2003). The book charts the nation’s descent into civil war as neighboring communities become enemies in the Shenandoah Valley, an area bisected by the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Bancroft Prize, one of the most coveted honors in the field of history, is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University to the authors of books of exceptional merit in the fields of American history, biography and diplomacy.

“ The Bancroft Prize singles out for distinction the most influential and scholarly books of the year that address the complexity of our country’s past and show how its events and leading figures helped to shape our present world,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “Without this illumination, we would be navigating today’s challenges without a compass.”

Ayers, the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History at U.Va., has been illuminating the past for contemporary audiences since the 1993 publication of his first book, “The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Of his latest work, the Bancroft jury said, “Few books have ever captured as well the connections between home front and battlefront.”

Since its establishment in 1948, the Bancroft Prize has carried a monetary value of $4,000. In 2004, however, the prize increased significantly to $10,000, according to prize administrator James Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia. The grant increase will “bring even greater visibility to this prestigious recognition of historical research and writing,” he said.

This year, 180 books were nominated for consideration by the Bancroft jury, and three were selected to receive awards. Besides Ayers, the two other 2004 Bancroft award winners are the University of Pennsylvania’s Steven Hahn, author of “A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South From Slavery to the Great Migration” (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), and the University of Notre Dame’s George M. Marsden, author of “Jonathan Edwards: A Life” (Yale University Press).

The Bancroft Prizes were established at Columbia with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, the historian, author and librarian of the Department of State, to provide steady development of library resources, to support instruction and research in American history and diplomacy and to recognize exceptional books in the field.


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of the University of Virginia

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