Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian Joins Colonial Williamsburg Board of Trustees

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Annette Gordon-Reed is the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
Annette Gordon-Reed is the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s board of trustees recently elected historian and scholar Annette Gordon-Reed to the board.

Gordon-Reed was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History with the publication of her book The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family in 2009.

More than a decade earlier, Gordon-Reed broke onto the scene with the publication of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. That book challenged previous research suggesting Jefferson was not the father of Hemings’ children and came a year ahead of the DNA tests that confirmed a genetic match between Jefferson and Hemings descendants.

“Annette’s work illustrates that one scholar’s research can change how we see fundamental individuals and events of that history, and with it our shared American identity,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman of Colonial Williamsburg’s board of trustees and the chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Resources.

Gordon-Reed’s Pulitzer-winning follow-up continued to explore the relationship between the famous Founding Father and the enslaved woman he owned.

In addition to her research and writings on the Jefferson and Hemings families, Gordon-Reed is also the editor of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History and author of Andrew Johnson and Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir, with Vernon Jordan.

Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, a professor of history in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Gordon-Reed’s honors include a fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in the humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award and the Woman of Power & Influence Award from the National Organization for Women in New York City. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Annette’s remarkable work illustrates not only the undiminished relevance of our nation’s history, but that history itself grows and evolves as we learn more about our collective past,” said Mitchell B. Reiss, Colonial Williamsburg president, CEO and board member. “Her scholarly leadership and support are critical as we seek to engage a far broader audience with the real stories of our shared, complex heritage.”