WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 28, 2011 – Sara Dubow ’91, assistant professor of history at Williams College, has been honored with a 2011 Bancroft Prize from Columbia University for Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2010).
Dubow is one of three winners whose acclaimed works received the Bancroft Prize, considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of American history. With Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America, Dubow provides a multidisciplinary history of the human fetus and puts contemporary debates about the fetus—the politics of stem cell research, prenatal testing, abortion, and reproductive technologies—into historical perspective. The work is Dubow’s first book.
“I am truly honored and thrilled to receive this award,” Dubow said. “When I look at the past Bancroft winners—books that have deeply shaped my scholarship and my teaching—I can hardly believe that my book is going to be on that list.”
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University and a previous Bancroft winner, also received the prize this year, for The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010); and Christopher Tomlins, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine, won for Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), his ninth book.
In announcing the winners March 24, Columbia University said the works, “while disparate in subject matter, demonstrate the powerful impact intensive research has when wound with eloquent interpretation and fluent prose.” The Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia. Winners are judged in terms of the scope, significance, depth of research, and richness of interpretation they present in the areas of American history and diplomacy. More than 230 books published in 2010 were considered for the 2011 prize.
Columbia Provost Claude M. Steele will present the awards at a formal dinner next month, hosted by the Department of History and the University Libraries. The Bancroft Prize, which includes an award of $10,000 to each author, was established at Columbia University in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, a preeminent historian, librarian, author, and Columbia University lecturer.
After graduating from Williams, Dubow earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2003. A member of the Williams history faculty since 2007, she taught previously at the Brearley School, Hunter College High School, and Hunter College. Her research and teaching interests examine the intersections of gender, law, and politics in 20th century U.S. history.
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.