Awards for Scholarly Distinction 1997
In 1984 the Council of the AHA established the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction. Each year a nominating jury recommends to the Council up to three names for the award. The Council then selects up to three names from the list presented. Nominees are senior historians of the highest distinction in the historical profession who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in the United States. Previous awards have gone to Nettie Lee Benson, Woodrow Borah, Angie Debo, Helen G. Edmonds, Felix Gilbert, John W. Hall, H. Stuart Hughes, Margaret Atwood Judson, George F. Kerman, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Gerhart B. Ladner, Gerda Lerner, Edmund Morgan, George L. Mosse, H. Leon Prather Sr., Benjamin Quarles, Edwin O. Reischauer, Nicholas V Riasanovsky, Caroline Robbins, Carl E. Schorske, Kenneth M. Setton, Kenneth M. Stampp, Chester E. Starr, Barbara and Staidey Stein, Lawrence Stone, Merze Tate, Emma Lou Thornbrough, Brian Tierney, and George R. Woolfolk.
Joining this distinguished list are Alfred D. Chandler Jr. (Harvard University); August Meier, (Kent State University); and Benjamin I. Schwartz (Harvard University). President-elect Joseph C. Miller read the following citations at the general meeting.
“Alfred D. Chandler Jr., professor emeritus at Harvard University, is the world’s foremost business historian. After graduating from Harvard in 1940, Chandler spent five years in the U.S. Navy. He earned a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina immediately after World War II, and then returned to Harvard, where he received a PhD in history in 1952. His outside field was sociology, and he was greatly influenced by Max Weber’s work on bureaucratic rationality and by the ‘structural-functional’ methodology of Talcott Parsons. Chandler was also involved in the activities of the Research Center in Entrepreneurial History that thrived at the Harvard Business School in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He taught at MIT from 1951 to 1963 and at Johns Hopkins from 1963 to 1971. The Harvard Business School appointed him Straus Professor of Business History in 1971, and Chandler held that prestigious chair until the mid-1990s.
"Over the last half century, Chandler’s numerous publications have defined the field: he is universally acknowledged as the ‘dean’ of business history. Indeed, his reputation is so great that, in some quarters, his name is virtually synonymous with the field itself. Chandler is linked to business history in much the same way that Frederick Jackson Turner led and mirrored the field of frontier history. Because of Chandler’s enormous impact on the direction of modern scholarship, the descriptive adjective ‘Chandlerian’ long ago entered the lexicon of every economic, and business historian, as well as the vocabulary of many members of related disciplines. In some intellectual circles Chandler is now ranked with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and John Maynard Keynes as an original thinker and a scholar whose contributions have shaped the work of subsequent cadres of researchers.
"The first important book that Chandler published was Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise with MIT Press in 1962. Drawing on his knowledge of sociology, the author was able to analyze from a fresh perspective the circumstances that led managers of the nation’s largest business enterprises to alter significantly their administrative structures. Chandler discovered a new pattern. When modern firms broadened their product lines, the organizing principles that had functioned so well in the 19th century quickly became obsolete. Beginning in the 1920s, corporate leaders like DuPont and General Motors adopted a decentralized management structure that was more in harmony with the strategy of product diversification.
"Chandler’s work shifted the direction of historical research dramatically. In the first half of the 20th century, business historians had tended to focus on competitive externalities, but Chandler, in marked contrast, probed the myriad internal factors that shaped decision-making. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Visible Hand, published in 1977, the author traced the evolution of management structures from the coming of railroads to the emergence of giant industrial enterprises. Whereas Adam Smith had emphasized the ‘invisible hand’ of outside market forces in the allocation of goods and services within the economy, Chandler argued that large business units were prone to internalize transactions in an effort to speed the processes of production and distribution. In Scale and Scope, published in 1988, Chandler broadened his horizon even further, providing readers with a comparative study of management systems in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States in the modem era.
"In addition to his work in business history, Chandler was engaged during his years at Johns Hopkins in editing the papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who coordinated allied military strategy during World War II and was later elected president of the United States. As editor, Chandler discovered that Eisenhower’s organizational duties as supreme commander had much in common with the functions performed by modern business executives. The impressive series of documentary volumes that he launched is now approaching a conclusion, with 17 superb source books already in print.
"As a director of doctoral dissertations, Chandler supervised the work of a number of students who have gone on to successful academic careers, among them William Becker, Charles Cheape, Richard John, Harold Livesay, Edwin Perkins, Glenn Porter, David Sicilia, and Mary Yeager. He also mentored many other scholars, including Thomas Hughes and Louis Galambos. In retirement, Chandler has remained active in scholarly pursuits. His latest project, which is nearly complete, is a book manuscript tentatively entitled Paths of Learning: The Evolution of High Technology Industries.
"Today, as some researchers speak of business history entering a new ‘post-Chandler’ phase, we can see clearly how this remarkable scholar has both dominated and advanced the field over the past three decades. We are all indebted to him for his path breaking contributions to our discipline and to other disciplines—including economics, sociology, and political science that have been influenced by his innovative and meticulous scholarship.”
“Since the pioneering work of Carter G. Woodson and the establishment of the Journal of Negro History in 1915, no historian has influenced the study of African American history more broadly than August Meier, whose revised dissertation, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915, published in 1963, reinvigorated a relatively dormant field. In subsequent books, often written in collaboration with his colleague Elliott Rudwick, Meier applied to the institutions and leaders of 20th-century America the same rigorous social and intellectual analysis he first applied to the post-Civil War generations of black professionals and businessmen.
"If those scholarly works influenced primarily his fellow teachers and writers, Meier neglected neither students nor general readers. In 1966 his and Rudwick’s From Plantation to Ghetto became at once one of the two standard texts for the black history courses then proliferating in colleges and universities. Thereafter, with several collaborators, he edited various collections of primary documents to make the African American voices of the 19th and 20th centuries readily accessible.
"In addition to his own publications, Meier has been a stern but immensely helpful godfather to the authors he recruited for his two series, Athenaeum’s Studies in American Negro Life and the University of Illinois Press series Blacks in the New World. While both series reprinted early classics and previously published monographs, it was Meier’s combination of demanding criticism and generous aid to the authors of books aborning that gave most abundantly to the historical profession as such. In both editing and teaching, so John Bracey, his onetime student and frequent collaborator, has observed, Meier's bibliographic references seemed prescriptions for lifelong learning while his performance standards demanded solid command of substance and eschewed speculations and flights of fancy.
"Yet Meier existed in no ivory tower. He has been a public intellectual as well, one whose timely essays in magazines for the general reader extended his analyses of current issues well beyond a historically oriented readership. But whatever his audience and however passionate his commitment to racial equality and civil rights, his writing has steadily avoided polemical distortions and waffling conclusions. It was no mere coincidence that the Southern Historical Association, whose meetings in segregated facilities Meier successfully challenged in 1960, elected him its 1992 president.
"The American Historical Association is honored to present its Award for Scholarly Distinction to August Meier.”
“The range of Benjamin I. Schwartz’s interests have inspired generations of students and teachers. Currently professor emeritus at Harvard University, Schwartz began his career there with a bachelor’s degree in romance languages and literatures and a master's in education. He became a cryptanalyst in the U.S. Signal Corps during the war and a newspaper censorship officer in occupied Japan until his discharge as captain in 1946. Only then did he begin his academic studies of the Far East, taking a PhD in history and Far Eastern languages at Harvard in 1950, and joining the faculty in the departments of history and government, where from 1975 he held the Leroy B. Williams Chair in History and Political Science.
"Benjamin Schwartz’s research and writings reflect an engagement in the issues of the present grounded in a deep sensitivity to the complexity of the past and present, West and East. In Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao (1951), he documented the emergence of an indigenous Chinese revolutionary strategy distinct from the Comintern’s, and in a pioneering study of Ch’en Tu-hsiu he showed how faith in a Western model of modernity was transmuted into a commitment to a Marxist path to the future. Tracing the formation of the Western model, In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West (1964) showed how the translator of Spencer, Mill, and Montesquieu could not only bend their ideas to the uses of Chinese nationalism, but also illuminate for us the Faustian spirit at work in the power of liberalism. That the Other, in the person of Yen Fu, could teach us something about ourselves, vindicated Schwartz’s abiding aversion to monolithic and simplistic dichotomizations, categorizations, and periodizations. And yet, he argued, if civilizations share common problems, they approach them with different orientations, the early stages of which he proceeded to explore in his monumental World of Thought in Ancient China (1985). At the same time, Schwartz has continued to illuminate the worlds of Chinese and comparative scholarship with brilliant commentary on subjects as diverse as the role of disciplines and area studies, Hannah Arendt, the Red Guards, and the prospects for post-Tiananmen China.
"His students and colleagues are deeply indebted to Benjamin Schwartz for the breadth of perspective and relentless insistence on the complexities of reality which he has brought to the expanding field of Chinese history. The Association is honored to present him with the Award for Scholarly Distinction.”
Beveridge Family Teaching Award
Established in 1995, this prize honors the Beveridge family’s longstanding commitment to the AHA and to K-12 teaching. Friends and family members endowed this award to recognize excellence and innovation in elementary, middle, and secondary school history teaching, including career contributions and specific initiatives. The honoree(s) can be recognized either for individual excellence in teaching or for an innovative initiative applicable to the entire field. It is offered on a two-cycle rotation: in even-numbered years, to an individual; in odd numbered years, to a group. The prize was first offered in 1996, and in 1997 was given to a group of teachers.
Miller announced that the second award would be given to Marathon County History Teaching Alliance of Wausau, Wisconsin. The Committee on Teaching Prizes cited the alliance “as an outstanding collaborative professional development program designed by local teachers and university faculty to enhance student learning by improving social studies instruction. During its 12-year history, it has created a truly regional learning community that involves 18 to 24 teachers annually in planning and presenting programs aimed at using recent scholarship to enrich secondary curriculum and instruction. The alliance brings recognized scholars in various historical fields together with secondary teachers in summer institutes and academic year seminars. The results have included significant curriculum enhancements, continuing professional development for teachers in the region, and praise from national leaders in the field of history education.”
William Gilbert Award
Named in memory of William Gilbert, a longtime AHA member and distinguished scholar-teacher at the University of Kansas, this biennial award recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching of history through the publication of journal and serial articles. Eligible for consideration are articles written by members of the AHA and published in the United States during the previous two years. Journals, magazines, and other serials that publish works on the teaching of history, including methodology and theory of pedagogy, are also eligible to submit nominations.
Miller announced that the recipient of the second William Gilbert Award was Susan L. Speaker for “Getting Started: Using the Time Machine to Teach History,"published in the August 1995 issue of The History Teacher.
"This intelligent and well-written article presents an excellent example of an increasingly popular (but difficult to execute) strategy for teaching social history. For her history of medicine class the author developed a series of simulations that require students to react to a variety of hypothetical historical situations. None of these exercises requires elaborate teaching aids and all focus on important issues in the history of medicine and its social context. What distinguishes her account of this technique is the clarity of its exposition, the creativity and vividness of the hypothetical constructs, and the soundness and practicality of the advice to potential users of this technique.”
John E. O’Connor Film Award
In recognition of his exceptional role as a pioneer in both teaching and research regarding film and history, the American Historical Association established this award in honor of John E. O’Connor of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University. The award seeks to recognize outstanding interpretations of history through the medium of film or video. Essential elements are stimulation of thought, imaginative use of the media effective presentation of information and ideas, sensitivity to modern scholarship and accuracy. The production should encourage viewers to ask questions about historical interpretations as well as to make a contribution to the understanding of history.
The fifth O’Connor Award was presented to A World Inscribed, a documentary about medieval manuscripts and the scribes and illuminators who produced them. The film was written, directed, and produced by Kathleen McDonough, San Rafael, California. Miller read the committee’s citation:
"This remarkable film about medieval manuscripts and their scribes brings to life a vital chapter of Western history. Despite the difficulty of evoking the Middle Ages on screen, the producers have succeeded in conveying—briefly, elegantly, wittily, and cogently—the human and cultural dimensions of the age of scribes and also of the transition to print. It is a film that both students and general audiences will find absorbing and illuminating.”
Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award
In recognition of Nancy Lyman Roelker’s role as a teacher, scholar, and committee member of the historical profession, and on the occasion of her 75th birthday, friends, colleagues, and former students established the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award. The annual award recognizes and encourages a special quality exemplified by Professor Roelker through the human component in her teaching of history.
Mentoring should encompass not only a belief in the value of the study of history but also a commitment to and a love of teaching it to students regardless of age or career goals. Advising is an essential component, but it also combines a consistent personal commitment by the mentor to the student as a person. Offering a human alternative, frequently in quiet and unacknowledged ways, mentors like Professor Roelker believe that the essence of history lies in its human scope. With this award, the American Historical Association attests to the special role of mentors to the future of the historical profession.
Nominations for the 1997 prize were for the K-12 level. Miller read the following citation:
"The Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award was established to honor teachers of history who taught, guided, and inspired their students in a way that changed their lives. The award is given on a three-cycle rotation to graduate, undergraduate, and secondary school teacher-mentors. Mentoring is an important part of the history discipline because it inspires students to pursue the field of history, provides them with the necessary guidance to become productive and fulfilled scholars and teachers in the field, and fosters a continuing tradition of excellence in the historical discipline.
"Thea G. Glicksman of Okemos High School in Okemos, Michigan, is esteemed and respected by students, parents, and colleagues as a dynamic classroom teacher-educator and selfless mentor. As one student noted, ‘to her, the kids are the most important, for they are her motivation to get up in the morning and the reason for her dedicating nearly 20 years to bettering education as a whole.’ The commitment to fostering student growth and development stems from Ms. Glicksman’s ability to allow her students ‘access to her at any time of the day to enhance the “A"student’s knowledge and understanding, or to work with the remedial student who is especially challenged.’ ‘She has a deep concern for all her students, and would like to see every one of them succeed not only in her class but in life also.’
"As the sixth recipient of the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award, Thea G. Glicksman’s teaching career exemplifies the tenets of mentorship including the ability to inspire, counsel, and nurture student personal and academic growth and development.”
Honorary Foreign Member
At its second annual meeting in Saratoga in 1885, the newly appointed Committee on Nominations for Honorary Membership introduced a resolution, which was adopted, that appointed Leopold von Ranke as the first honorary foreign member. In the intervening 113 years, only 81 individuals have been so honored. Previously selected biennially, honorees are now selected annually, awarding a foreign scholar who is distinguished in his or her field and who has “notably aided the work of American historians.”
Miller announced the addition of David Ayalon, professor emeritus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “David Ayalon is one of the few scholars who can be regarded as a founder of his field. He was trained as a specialist in medieval Middle East history and quickly established an expertise in the fields of 13th- to 16th-century eastern Mediterranean history In particular, he began a lifelong study of the unusual Islamic institution of military slavery most often known by the name Mamluk, Prior to the appearance of his path breaking articles on this institution in medieval Egypt and elsewhere in the Islamic world, it was widely regarded as a peculiar phenomenon of only marginal interest. Professor Ayalon set out, literally, to examine everything available, either in print or in manuscript. He recognized quite early that no credible analysis could be attempted until a foundation of accurate definitions had been completed. Every article or book which touches on any aspect of Mamluks refers to the scholarly contributions of David Ayalon.
"One measure of Dr. Ayalon’s value to the profession is the frequency with which scholars in other countries seek him out and find him helpful. Following his retirement in 1983 after a long and distinguished career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he has remained vigorously engaged in his discipline and professional community. He has frequently visited U.S. colleges and universities, generously sharing his time with faculty and students alike. In supporting Professor Ayalon’s nomination, colleagues state that he has ‘created a field’ and that ‘his work is a foundation stone for my own, and I think most Middle East historians are equally indebted to him.’ And Professor Ayalon is the doyen of Israeli scholars of the Middle East. Two generations of Israelis and many Americans have learned their craft from his teaching!’
"The American Historical Association is honored to acknowledge Professor Ayalon’s role in the international community of scholars by selecting him as the Honorary Foreign Member for 1997.”