David Blight honored with Lincoln Prize for his book on Frederick Douglass

David Blight at a Dec. 2018 event promoting his book “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” at Yale.
David Blight at a Dec. 2018 event promoting his book “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” at Yale. (Photo credit: Daniel Vieira)

David Blight, the 1954 Professor of American History at Yale, was recently honored with the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize from Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History for his book “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.”

A noted Civil War historian, Blight directs the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. Blight’s nearly 900-page “Prophet of Freedom” tackles Frederick Douglass’s complex history and his legacy as an abolitionist. The prizewinning historian’s research for the book spanned nine years.

Blight will be recognized during an event hosted by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in April. The award includes a $50,000 prize and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ life-size bust “Lincoln the Man.”

David Blight is the foremost expert on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass,” said James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, “and this is a brilliant culmination of his life’s work. Every American who cares about the future of our country should read this book.”  

The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize has been awarded annually to a work that enhances the general public’s understanding of the Civil War era. It was co-founded in 1990 by businessmen and philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, co-chairmen of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York and co-creators of the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

Joanne B. Freeman, professor of history and American studies at Yale, and author of “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War,” was named a finalist for the prize.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history non-profit organization dedicated to K-12 education. With a focus on primary sources, the Gilder Lehrman Institute illuminates the stories, people, and moments that inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to learn and understand more about history. Through a diverse portfolio of education programs, including the acclaimed Hamilton Education Program, the Gilder Lehrman Institute provides opportunities for nearly two million students, 30,000 teachers and 16,000 schools worldwide.

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Media Contact

Bess Connolly: elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu, 203-432-1324