UNL history professor Jacobs is winner of Bancroft Prize

Released on 03/17/2010, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., March 17th, 2010 —
Margaret Jacobs
Margaret Jacobs

University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Margaret Jacobs is the winner of the Bancroft Prize for her book "White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940," published in 2009 by the University of Nebraska Press.

The Bancroft Prize, which is administered by Columbia University, is widely considered among the most prestigious awards for history.

In "White Mother to a Dark Race," Jacobs writes about the forced removal of indigenous children from their families and their assimilation into American and Australian culture. In both countries, white women played large roles in the removal and assimilation process -- they served as teachers in boarding schools, as surrogate mothers and, often, as the agents who physically removed indigenous children from their families. Jacobs traveled to Australia and throughout the United States in order to better understand why white women were so invested in this movement and what they hoped to accomplish by removing indigenous children from their families. In "White Mother to a Dark Race," Jacobs also explores the impact that forcible removal had on indigenous children and culture.

"Margaret's fine research illustrates that the control and exclusion of indigenous peoples was central to the formation of the present-day United States and Australia," said University of Nebraska Press Native American and Indigenous Studies Editor Matthew Bokovoy. "The Bancroft Prize recognition of "White Mother to a Dark Race" shows the inhuman way in which indigenous peoples were treated during colonial times continues to impact Native American and Aboriginal peoples, as well as the United States and Australia."

Jacobs is a professor of history and the director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is also the author of "Engendered Encounters: Feminism and Pueblo Cultures, 1879-1934," published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1999.

"White Mother to a Dark Race" was one of three books to receive the award. The others are "Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits," by Linda Gordon (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009); and "Abigail Adams," by Woody Holton (New York: Free Press, 2009).

The winners will be formally recognized at an awards dinner on April 21, at Columbia University in New York. Each author will also receive a $10,000 cash prize.

University of Nebraska Press Director Donna Shear said the honor reflects a long tradition of publishing quality scholarship in Native American and Indigenous studies, and U.S. history.

"Our press is well-known for the indigenous studies titles that we publish," Shear said. "This is a great honor for Margaret Jacobs, for our Native studies titles and editor, for our press, and for the University of Nebraska as a

Founded in 1941, the University of Nebraska Press is a nonprofit scholarly and general interest press that publishes 160 new and reprint titles annually under the Nebraska and Bison Books imprints, along with 20 journals. As the largest and most diversified university press between Chicago and California, with nearly 3,000 books in print, the University of Nebraska Press is best known for publishing works in Indigenous studies, history and literature of the American West, and sports history. The UNP has also had a long-standing dedication to making available the best literature from around the world. With nearly 200 translated titles currently in print from five different languages, including titles by Nobel Prize for Literature winners J.M.G. Le Clezio and Herta Mueller, the number and breadth of translated titles has distinguished UNP as one of the largest, most active American publishers of translated work.

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