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Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize

Headshot of Editor, Society of Civil War Historians Newsletter Anne J. Bailey

Did you defend your dissertation during the 2019 calendar year?  Or do you know someone who did?  The SCWH has extended the deadline to submit applications for the Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize to May 15th.  Apply today!

The Anne J. Bailey dissertation prize recognizes the best dissertation, defended in the previous calendar year, that takes the US Civil War as its main point of focus.  The prize consists of a $2,000 stipend, generously funded by the McWhiney History Education Group (previously the McWhiney Foundation, which Anne Bailey was affiliated with for many years). Authors of eligible dissertations should submit the following information in a single pdf file via email to Barby Singer ( by May 15, 2020: cover letter with full contact information; title page, abstract, and table of contents; along with a sample chapter. The full dissertation should not be submitted. After reviewing these materials, the prize committee will solicit full dissertations for further consideration. Only material – for both the sample chapter and the final manuscript – from the original dissertation should be submitted. The author should also make arrangements with their dissertation advisor to send a letter of support to the same address by May 15:  All letters of support should contain the dissertator’s name in the email subject line, along with a reference to the Bailey Prize. The prize committee will consist of three SCWH members, appointed by the SCWH Advisory Board, and one representative of State House Press (affiliated with the MHEG) who will be a non-voting member and will participate only in the first round of review. The Bailey Prize winner will be announced some time in Fall 2020.

Congratulations to the Winner of the 2020 Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize

Robert ColbyThe Society of Civil War Historians and the McWhiney History Education Group are proud to announce that Robert K. D. Colby is the recipient of the inaugural Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize. Dr. Colby, postdoctoral fellow at Christopher Newport University’s Center for American Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at CNU, earned the award for his dissertation, “The Continuance of an Unholy Traffic: Slave Trading in the Civil War South.” Colby earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill under the direction of Harry Watson. The $2,000 award is funded by the McWhiney History Education Group in honor of Anne J. Bailey, who was affiliated with the group for many years.

Colby’s dissertation, which also received the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians, explores the sustained vitality of the domestic slave trade throughout the American Civil War. In the words of the prize committee the dissertation is “clearly and gracefully written, expertly framed and organized, and possesses a primary source base that is among the best the committee has seen in dissertations. If debate yet exists as to whether slavery was the bedrock of southern white support for secession and the Confederacy, this fine dissertation will go far to put it to rest. It inserts itself into important scholarly debates on slavery and capitalism, the domestic slave trade, wartime fugitives and freedom-seeking, military confiscation and emancipation, and Confederate nationalism and the homefront. That no study exists on the wartime slave trade in the Confederacy makes it not only an original but essential contribution that demonstrates slavery’s continued wartime power. The committee believes that it will have immediate impact in the broad field of Civil War studies.”

The Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize jury consisted of Barbara Gannon, Associate Professor at University of Central Florida; Christopher Phillips, the John and Dorothy Hermanies Professor of American History and University Distinguished Professor in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Cincinnati; Minoa Uffelman, Professor in the Department of History & Philosophy at Austin Peay State University; and Don Frazier, President and CEO of The McWhiney Group and Director, The Texas Center at Schreiner University.