A critically acclaimed biography of anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells has been selected as the winner of the inaugural John Hope Franklin Research Center Book Award, sponsored by Duke University Libraries.
The award will be presented to author Paula J. Giddings during the first "Atelier@Duke," a series of panel discussions focusing on the theme "The Idea of Archive: Producing and Performing Race."
"This atelier is a workshop on ideas -- a way to showcase the visual, intellectual and interdisciplinary work that constructs our public and private archives of politics, culture and identity. It is a collection's first conversation, asking a critical question, ‘how do we organize knowledge?'" said committee member Karla FC Holloway, the James B. Duke Professor of English and a professor of law at Duke.
The panel discussions, which are free and open to the public, will take place Feb. 25-26 in Perkins Library's Gothic Reading Room. For more information, and to register, visit library.duke.edu/atelier.
Giddings, a professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College, is the author of "Ida: A Sword Among Lions" (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008). She will receive a $10,000 cash prize, presented by Duke's John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture. The research center, which marked its 15th anniversary this year, is part of Duke's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL).
The book award was established "to recognize a recent work of scholarship that best exemplifies the mission of the research center and champions the importance of archival research," said Naomi Nelson, RBMSCL director.
"Ida: A Sword Among Lions" tells the story of activist, suffragist and journalist Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), who was born to slaves in Mississippi and eventually rose to lead an international campaign against lynching.
According to the unanimous decision of the book prize committee, "Paula Giddings's biography is as striking an achievement as the life it chronicles. This richly documented study will no doubt stand for all time as the definitive, most informed autobiography of Wells. In the tradition of the scholarship of John Hope Franklin, it stands as a tribute to a life of learning, both the author's and that of the subject of her biography."
"This honor is deeply satisfying because it was Dr. Franklin who made possible the publication of Ida Wells' autobiography, ‘Crusade for Justice,' the foundational text that made her legacy both visible and compelling to succeeding generations," said Giddings.
To learn more about the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, visit the website.