Congratulations to the Winner of The Journal of the Civil War Era’s George and Ann Richards Prize!

Congratulations to the Winner of The Journal of the Civil War Era’s George and Ann Richards Prize!

Catherine A. Jones has won the $1,000 George and Ann Richards Prize for the best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era in 2020. The article, “The Trials of Mary Booth and the Post-Civil War Incarceration of African American Children,” appeared in the September 2020 issue.

Drawn from a fragmentary archival record, Jones’s essay examines the wrongful 1882 murder conviction of Mary Booth, a fourteen-year-old African American girl in Virginia. It shows how African American children were transformed into carceral subjects following emancipation and how, in response, Black Virginians fought for greater access to the justice system and for juvenile justice reform.

In the words of the prize committee, “Professor Catherine A. Jones overcame the fragmentary documentary record to write a compelling narrative about a black girl caught in an unpredictable, often brutal, legal system. The author handled the complex legal maneuvers with skill, without ever losing sight of the human dimension of the story. The essay gives us new ways to think about freedom and unfreedom in the postwar South, and it illuminates new aspects of the history of childhood, African Americans, and women.”

Dr. Jones is associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Intimate Reconstructions: Children in Postemancipation Virginia (2015). She is currently working on a book about the history of child incarceration in the post–Civil War era. The prize committee consisted of Sarah E. Gardner, Mercer University; Joan E. Cashin, The Ohio State University; and Brandon R. Byrd, Vanderbilt University.

Awarded annually, the Richards Prize celebrates the generosity of George and Ann Richards, who were instrumental in the growth of the Richards Civil War Era Center and in the founding of The Journal of the Civil War Era.

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