Book by NIU prof. wins history prize

By Moin H. Khan

A new member of NIU’s history department received a prestigious Southern history award last week in New Orleans for his book dealing with the colonial cultures of Chesapeake region located in Maryland and Virginia.

Assistant Professor Allan Kulikoff, who joined NIU in September 1987 after teaching at Princeton University for five years, has been awarded Francis Butler Simkins Award for his book “Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800.”

The Simkins prize is awarded every other year to a “distinguished, scholarly first book” in Southern history published in that time frame. The prize is sponsored jointly by Longwood College, which provides a cash award, and the Southern Historical Association.

In his book, published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Kulikoff links the patterns of demographic and economic change in the colonial Chesapeake to class formation in the region.

NIU’s history department Chairman Otto Olsen said Kulikoff’s book depicts how a largely immigrant society of small planters became polarized slaves.

eviewing the book for the William and Marry Quarterly (April 1987), Kenneth Lockridge wrote, “It is a brilliantly woven synthesis of the way the interplay of economic circumstance and demographic realities shaped Chesapeake culture from the moment of settlement right up to the first election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800.”

Lockridge, of the University of Michigan history department, wrote, “The first 150-odd pages of this book are a breathtakingly fluent weaving together of the structural research of the past two decades into one of the most exciting narratives of social development yet written.”

Kulikoff, who earned his post-doctoral degree from Harvard, is working on another book examining the history of the American yeoman classes between initial settlement in 1600 and populist revolt of the 1890s.

Kulikoff teaches undergraduate courses on Jacksonian America as well as the American history survey and graduate courses on American agrarian history.

Published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1986, Kulikoff’s book was funded partly by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency.