Virginia Museum of History & Culture honors authors

virginia museum of history & cultureThe Virginia Museum of History & Culture is recognizing the authors of the best article to appear in its quarterly journal, the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, as well as an author of a work in the field of Virginia biography.

Established in 1893, the VHMB publishes articles and book reviews on a wide range of topics encompassing all periods of Virginia’s long social, political, and cultural history. It is one of the oldest continuously published scholarly journals in the nation.

The journal is housed in the collections of libraries throughout the nation and internationally, and is available on the JSTOR database, a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources available to instructors and college students nationwide.

The William M. E. Rachal Award was established in 1985 to recognize the overall best article to appear in the VMHB. Each year a committee of the journal’s editorial advisory board selects the author whose essay has best advanced the cause of scholarship in Virginia history. The award carries a cash prize and honors the long-time editor of the journal, Will Rachal, who served from 1953 to 1980.

This year the committee chose coauthors Brian J. Daugherity and Alyce Miller as the winners of the Rachal Award for 2020 for their article, “‘A New Era in Building’: African American Educational Activism in Goochland County, Virginia, 1911–32,” which appeared in vol. 128, no. 1, of the VMHB.

The award committee had this to say about the article: “In this article, Daugherity and Miller examine local efforts to increase educational opportunities for rural African Americans in the broader context of educational advocacy across the state and the South. The authors constructed this history of educational activism in Goochland County from a compelling array of county records, regional philanthropic records, and interviews they conducted with Goochland County educational activists. By setting their study in conversation with histories of the ‘long’ civil rights movement and educational activism during the Jim Crow era, Daugherity and Miller show how one rural Black community contributed to regional and national efforts to achieve school equalization efforts in later decades.”

Daugherity is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Miller is a professor of history at Valencia College.

The Richard Slatten Award was established in 1997, thanks to a generous bequest, to recognize excellence in the field of Virginia Biography. This prize, which carries a cash award honors the person whose work made the most significant contribution to biographical study.

The recipient of the Slatten Award for 2020 is Christopher Tomlins for his book, In the Matter of Nat Turner: A Speculative History, published by Princeton University Press. In the Matter of Nat Turner is a bold new interpretation of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion that stunned the American South.

Tomlins penetrates the historical caricature of Turner as befuddled mystic and self-styled Baptist preacher to recover the haunting persona of this legendary American slave rebel, telling of his self-discovery and the dawning of his Christian faith, of an impossible task given to him by God, and of redemptive violence and profane retribution.

James Sidbury, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, stated that In the Matter of Nat Turner is the “sharpest and most insightful interpretation of Nat Turner’s rebellion in the scholarly literature. Tomlins’s wonderful and important book makes a fundamental contribution to our understanding of one of the canonical events in American and African American history.”

Tomlins is the Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and an affiliated research professor at the American Bar Foundation, Chicago.


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