Southern Historical Association

Press Release:

Southern Historical Association announces C. Vann Woodward Award Winner for 2017

Athens, GA: The Southern Historical Association (SHA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize: Angela Esco Elder, author of “Married to the Confederacy: The Emotional Politics of Confederate Widowhood,” written under the direction of Stephen Berry at the University of Georgia.

Established in 2000, the Woodward Award is given annually to recognize the best dissertation in Southern history defended in the previous calendar year. The prize consists of a $3,000 stipend provided by the Woodward Fund, a generous bequest left to the SHA by C. Vann Woodward.  

Elder’s dissertation examines the “complicated emotional and political relationship between Confederate widows and the Confederate state.” To support its war effort, the Confederate state needed its widows to accept that they had given their husbands in a heroic cause. A closer look at their letters and diaries, however, reveals that many Confederate widows had their own ideas and agendas and were determined to spend their new cultural capital in their own way. In making its award, the prize committee singled out Elder’s dissertation for its “rich archival research, judicious use of sources, and clear, concise expression.”

About the SHA: The Southern Historical Association was organized on November 2, 1934 and charged with promoting an "investigative rather than a memorial approach" to southern history. Its objectives are the promotion of interest and research in southern history, the collection and preservation of the South's historical records, and the encouragement of state and local historical societies in the South. As a secondary purpose the Association fosters the teaching and study of all areas of history in the South. The Association holds an annual meeting, usually in the first or second week of November, and publishes The Journal of Southern History.

About C. Vann Woodward: Comer Vann Woodward is widely regarded as one of the most influential historians of his generation. Martin Luther King Jr. called his Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955) "the historical bible of the Civil Rights Movement.” Woodward won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1982 for Mary Chesnut’s Civil War.