Dr. Edward L. Ayers

Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus

Profile

Edward Ayers is Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond. Dr. Ayers has been named National Professor of the Year, received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama at the White House, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history.


Ayers is one of the cohosts for BackStory, a popular podcast about American history. His newest book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, has received the Lincoln Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Institute and Gettysburg College. 

Grants and Fellowships

Fulbright Fellowship – John Adams Professor of American Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 1995

Awards

Awards for Scholarship

  • National Humanities Medal, awarded by the President of the United States, 2013
  • Albert J. Beveridge Award, American Historical Association, for the best English-language book on the history of the US, Canada, or Latin America from 1492 to the present, 2004
  • Bancroft Prize for Distinguished Book in American History, Columbia University, 2004
  • Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, School of Graduate Studies Award for Outstanding Achievement, Yale University, 2003
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected as member in 2001
  • E-Lincoln Prize for Best Digital Project on the Era of the American Civil War, given by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute and Gettysburg College, 2001 ($40,000)
  • Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award, given by the Southern Historical Association for the best book in Southern history, 1993
  • James Rawley Prize, given by the Organization of American Historians, for best book on the history of race relations in the United States, 1992
  • National Book Award, Finalist for Nonfiction, 1992
  • Pulitzer Prize, Finalist for History, 1992
  • J. Willard Hurst Award for Best Book in American Legal History, cowinner for 1984-1985, Law and Society Association

Awards for Teaching and Service

  • National Professor of the Year for Research and Doctoral Universities, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Council for Support and Advancement of Education (CASE Award), 2003
  • James Harvey Robinson Prize for Outstanding Aid to Teaching History, American Historical Association (AHA), 2002
  • State Council of Higher Education in Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 1991 (a $5,000 award and statue presented by Virginia's Governor)

Memberships

American Historical Association, Chair of Ad Hoc Committee on Digital Scholarship, 2014-2015

Organization of American Historians, President-Elect, term beginning in 2017

American Council on Education, executive committee, 2008-2012

National Humanities Center, board, 2007-2011

National Council for the Humanities, appointed by the President of the United States to advise the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2000-2004

Professional Experience

Co-Editor of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab

Director, "The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War"
A website that has attracted millions of users and won major prizes in the teaching of history.

Co-Host, BackStory with the American History Guys
A nationally syndicated radio and podcast show sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

President, University of Richmond (2007-2015)

Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia (2001-2007)

Hugh P. Kelly Professor, University of Virginia (1993-2007)

Professor, University of Virginia (1992-1993)

Associate Professor, University of Virginia (1986-1992)

Assistant Professor, University of Virginia (1980-1986)

Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1999-2000)

Selected Publications

Books

America's War:  Talking about the Civil War and Emancipation on their 150th Anniversaries, (co-published by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2011)

America on the Eve of the Civil War, edited with Carolyn R. Martin (University of Virginia Press, 2010)

The Crucible of the Civil War: Virginia from Secession to Commemoration, edited with Gary Gallagher and Andrew Torget (University of Virginia Press, 2006)

What Caused the Civil War? Reflections on the South and Southern History, (W.W. Norton, 2005)

In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863, (W.W. Norton, Fall 2003)

The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War--The Eve of War, CD-ROM and book, co-authored with Anne S. Rubin, (W. W. Norton and Company, 2000)

The Oxford Book of the American South: Testimony, Memory, and Fiction, edited with Bradley Mittendorf (Oxford University Press, 1997)

All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions, co-editor and co-author, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)

The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, (Oxford University Press, 1992; paperback edition, 1993; abridged edition, 1995; 15th Anniversary Edition, 2007)

The Edge of the South: Life in Nineteenth-Century Virginia, edited with John C. Willis (University Press of Virginia, 1991)

Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth-Century American South, (Oxford University Press, 1984; paperback edition, 1986)

Education

Ph.D., Yale University 1980
American Studies

B.A., University of Tennessee 1974
American Studies

Contact Information

Weinstein International Center
(804) 334-5554
(Mobile)

Areas of Expertise

The Civil War
Digital Humanities

Websites