2015 Frederick Douglass Book Prize

NYU Professor Wins the Seventeenth Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize


New Haven, Conn. — Ada Ferrer, Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press). The Douglass Prize was created jointly by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is awarded annually by Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Ferrer at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City on February 4, 2016.

In addition to Ferrer, the other finalists for the prize were Ezra Greenspan for William Wells Brown: An African American Life (W. W. Norton), and Michael Guasco for Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press).

This year’s finalists were selected from a field of more than eighty books by a jury of scholars that included Douglas Egerton (Chair, Le Moyne College), Rosanne Adderley (Tulane University), and James Sweet (University of Wisconsin).The winners were selected by a review committee of representatives from the Gilder Lehrman Center, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Yale University.

Freedom’s Mirror offers “a fresh perspective and links these two nations together in a complex web, in which sugar slavery declined in Haiti just as it rose in Cuba,” commented the jury. “Ferrer’s research is most impressive, she fills her pages with proslavery Cuban generals, African slaves in both colonies, refugee ‘French Negroes,’ and Haitian leaders who hoped to weaken slavery on the islands that surrounded them. Freedom’s Mirror will force even specialists to reconsider this era,” At the same time, “one of Ferrer’s greatest successes is her rendering of the complex politics in a beautifully written and understandable way that will be readily followed by readers with minimal knowledge of nineteenth-century Cuba, Haiti, and the Spanish Caribbean.”

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize was established in 1999 to stimulate scholarship in the field of slavery and abolition by honoring outstanding books on the subject. The award is named for Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the slave who escaped bondage to emerge as one of the great American abolitionists, reformers, writers, and orators of the nineteenth century.