The Society of Civil War Historians gives an annual Tom Watson Brown Book Award for the best book published on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War. This includes, but is not exclusive to, monographs, synthetic works presenting original interpretations, and biographies. Works of fiction, poetry, anthologies, and textbooks are not considered. Jurors consider nominated works’ scholarly and literary merit as well as the extent to which they make original contributions to our understanding of the period.
The prize is presented at the SCWH banquet at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting, where the winner delivers a formal address that will be published in a subsequent issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era.
2019 Winner of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award:
The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson-Brown Foundation are proud to announce that Amy Murrell Taylor is the recipient of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Dr. Taylor, Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky, earned the award for Embattled Freedom: Journeys Through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps which was published in 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press. The $50,000 award is funded by the Watson-Brown Foundation in honor of Tom Watson Brown, a dedicated student of the Civil War. In making its selection, the prize committee praised Taylor for her “original, nuanced view of slave refugee camps and the relationship of the US Army to the process of emancipation.” Offering a “detailed spatial analysis of the camps” along with compelling stories “about the fate of so-called contraband slaves”, Embattled Freedom, the prize committee explains, “is one of the very best books written in the field of Civil War studies in the last decade and perhaps longer than that.”
The Watson Brown Book Award jury consisted of Carole Emberton, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo; Ari Kelman, Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of History at the University of California at Davis; Joshua Rothman, Professor, University of Alabama; and Tad Brown, President of the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc. Tad Brown will present the award to Dr. Taylor at the Tom Watson Brown Book Award dinner, which will be held on November 8 at the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.
2020 Nomination Information:
The Society of Civil War Historians solicits nominations for the Tom Watson Brown Book Award for books published in 2019. Publishers are asked to send books, along with a cover letter nominating the work for the Tom Watson Brown Award, directly to the four prize jurors no later than January 31, 2020. Only books published in 2019 will be considered.
All genres of scholarship on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War are eligible. This includes, but is not exclusive to, edited volumes, monographs, synthetic works presenting original interpretations, and biographies. Works of fiction, poetry, and textbooks will not be considered. Jurors will consider nominated works’ scholarly and literary merit as well as the extent to which they make original contributions to our understanding of the period.
Sarah E. Gardner, University Distinguished Professor of History at Mercer University, will chair the prize jury. The other members are Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Fred C. Frey Professor and Department Chair at Louisiana State University, and Brenda Stevenson, Professor and Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tad Brown, President of the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., will serve as a non-voting member of the jury.
The winner will be announced by August 1, 2020. The prize will be presented at the SCWH banquet at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting, where the winner will deliver a formal address that will be published in a subsequent issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era.
Nominated books with cover letters should be sent to:
- Tad Brown, President, Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., 310 Tom Watson Way, Thomson, GA 30824
- Sarah E. Gardner, Department of History, Mercer University, 1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, GA 31207
- Aaron Sheehan-Dean, 224 Himes Hall, History Department, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
- Brenda Stevenson, History Department, UCLA, 6265 Bunche Hall, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095
The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2020.
Previous Tom Watson Brown Book Award Winners:
2018: Andrew Lang, Assistant Professor of History, Mississippi State University, for In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America (Louisiana State University Press, 2017)
2017: Christopher Phillips, John and Dorothy Hermanies Professor of American History and University Distinguished Research Professor in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University of Cincinnati, for The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border (Oxford University Press, 2016)
2016: Earl J. Hess, Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History, Lincoln Memorial University, for Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness. (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)
2015: Shauna Devine, Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Department of History, Western University, for Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science. (The University of North Carolina Press, 2014)
2014: Ari Kelman, Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of History, University of California, Davis, for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013).
2013: John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duff Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History in the Yale History Department, for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Simon & Schuster, 2012).
2011: Mark W. Geiger, a 2011-12 Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, for Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865 (Yale University Press, 2010).
2010: Daniel E. Sutherland, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas, for A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina, 2009).