J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Prizes from the A.H.A.

At their meeting earlier this month, the members of the American Historical Association announced the winners of their awards for books, other media, and teaching.

The Littleton-Griswold Prize for book on “the history of U.S. law and society (broadly defined)” went to a book about pre-Revolutionary Boston: Robert Love’s Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston, by Cornelia H. Dayton of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and Sharon V. Salinger of the University of California, Irvine.

I’ve mentioned this book before, but here’s the publisher’s description:
In colonial America, the system of “warning out” was distinctive to New England, a way for a community to regulate those to whom it would extend welfare. Robert Love’s Warnings animates this nearly forgotten aspect of colonial life, richly detailing the moral and legal basis of the practice and the religious and humanistic vision of those who enforced it.

Historians Cornelia H. Dayton and Sharon V. Salinger follow one otherwise obscure town clerk, Robert Love, as he walked through Boston’s streets to tell sojourners, “in His Majesty’s Name,” that they were warned to depart the town in fourteen days. This declaration meant not that newcomers literally had to leave, but that they could not claim legal settlement or rely on town poor relief. Warned youths and adults could reside, work, marry, or buy a house in the city. If they became needy, their relief was paid for by the province treasurer. Warning thus functioned as a registration system, encouraging the flow of labor and protecting town coffers.

Between 1765 and 1774, Robert Love warned four thousand itinerants, including youthful migrant workers, demobilized British soldiers, recently exiled Acadians, and women following the redcoats who occupied Boston in 1768. Appointed warner at age sixty-eight owing to his unusual capacity for remembering faces, Love kept meticulous records of the sojourners he spoke to, including where they lodged and whether they were lame, ragged, drunk, impudent, homeless, or begging. Through these documents, Dayton and Salinger reconstruct the biographies of travelers, exploring why so many people were on the move throughout the British Atlantic and why they came to Boston. With a fresh interpretation of the role that warning played in Boston’s civic structure and street life, Robert Love’s Warnings reveals the complex legal, social, and political landscape of New England in the decade before the Revolution.
In addition, here are some other prize-winners covering eighteenth-century America.

Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution, by Ada Ferrer of New York University, won the Friedrich Katz Prize in Latin American and Caribbean history and the Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora history, and shared the James A. Rawley Prize for the integration of Atlantic worlds before the twentieth century.

Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619–1807, by Gregory E. O’Malley of the University of California at Santa Cruz, shared the Rawley Prize and won the Morris D. Forkosch Prize in the field of British, British Imperial, or British Commonwealth history since 1485.

The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World, by Greg Grandin of New York University, shared the Albert J. Beveridge Award on the history of the United States, Latin America, or Canada, from 1492 to the present.

1 comment:

RBK said...

You are starting to give me an ever growing reading list...and I love reading...so, thank you.