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2008 John Frederick Lewis Award

Autumn General Meeting
Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt

The American Philosophical Society awarded the 2008 John Frederick Lewis Award to Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt for her monograph Franz Boas and W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1906. The award was presented by Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study and chairman of the prize selection committee.

Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt is Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the College and professor of anthropology at Agnes Scott College. Her teaching and scholarly interests include folklore and the history and theory of anthropology. She is a recipient of the Society’s Mellon Resident Research Fellowship Grant and was a Library Resident Fellow from 1996-97. She is also the author of American Folklore Scholarship: A Dialogue of Dissent (1988) and Wealth and Rebellion: Elsie Clews Parsons, Anthropologist and Folklorist (1992).

The seeds of Franz Boas and W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1906 were planted at the American Philosophical Society Library, where Dr. Zumwalt was researching the papers of the anthropologist William Shedrick Willis. In these papers she discovered an unpublished draft manuscript, Boas Goes to Atlanta, which Willis had conceived as a study of Franz Boas’s work in black anthropology.

Using the first chapter of this manuscript as a jumping off point, Zumwalt goes on to consider the Father of American Anthropology’s trip to Atlanta in great depth. Drawing from a wealth of archival correspondence and bibliographic research, she relates the history of Boas’s time on the Atlanta University campus; responses to his talk by blacks and whites; and the conflict that the trip itself caused between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.

In 1935 the American Philosophical Society established the John Frederick Lewis Award with funds donated by his widow. The award recognizes the best book or monograph published by the Society in a given year.

The selection committee consisted of chairman Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study; Helen F. North, Centennial Professor Classics Emerita, Swarthmore College; and Noel M. Swerdlow, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics and of History, University of Chicago.