The Society of Civil War Historians (SCWH) is an association of scholars dedicated to exploring slavery, the sectional crisis, Civil War, emancipation, and reconstruction roughly from the 1830s through 1880. The society also looks at the legacies of the conflict that continue to have an impact on society today. SCWH’s mission is to encourage scholarly activity and academic exchange among historians, graduate students, and professionals who interpret history in museums, national parks, archives, and other public facilities. SCWH’s goal is to bring greater coherence to the historical field by encouraging the integration of social, military, political, and other forms of history and generally to promote the study of the Civil War era.
John Fabian Witt wins Tom Watson Brown Book Award
The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson–Brown Foundation are proud to announce that John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History in the Yale History Department, is the recipient of the $50,000 Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Witt received the award for his book Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2012. He received the $50,000 award at the Tom Watson Brown Book Award dinner held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch, on Friday, November 1. The Hyatt Regency served as the conference hotel for the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in St. Louis, MO, on October 31-November 3, 2013. The SCWH holds its annual banquet in conjunction with the Southern.
Lincoln's Code describes the evolution of what became the Code of War. In the closing days of 1862, the administration of Abraham Lincoln commissioned a code setting forth the laws of war for U.S. armies. It announced standards of conduct in wartime—concerning torture, prisoners of war, civilians, spies, and slaves—that shaped the course of the Civil War. By the twentieth century, Lincoln’s code would be incorporated into the Geneva Conventions and form the basis of a new international law of war.
Lincoln’s Code has received additional attention. It won the Bancroft Prize, earned recognition as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and as a New York Times Notable Book for 2012, and won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. Previous works by Witt include Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2007), and the prize winning book, The Accidental Republic: Crippled Workingmen, Destitute Widows, and the Remaking of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2004), as well as articles in the American Historical Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and other scholarly journals. In 2010 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Professor Witt is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale College and he holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale. Until 2009, he was the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia University. He served as law clerk to Judge Pierre N. Leval on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.