Sophie White, a professor in the University of Notre Dame’s department of American Studies, has won the 2020 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her work “Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana.”

The prize, sponsored by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, recognizes the best book published in English on slavery, resistance or abolition. It is considered one of the most distinguished awards for the study of global slavery.

White also recently won the James A. Rawley Book Prize from the American Historical Association, the ASWAD Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Prize for Outstanding Book on Gender and Sexuality, and the Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize in French Colonial History.

White wrote “Voices of the Enslaved” with support from a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, her second such award. In the book, she offers a glimpse into the lives of enslaved people — through their own words — by analyzing courtroom testimony from enslaved Africans in French colonies, primarily in 18th-century Louisiana but also in islands in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans.

White is developing a digital humanities website related to the project, called “Hearing Slaves Speak in Colonial America,” which will provide, side-by-side, an image of the original court manuscript page, a transcription of the French, and her translation into English. It will be featured in the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s OI Reader.

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