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Historian, author Forret nominated for Frederick Douglass Book Prize

Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition named LU Professor of History Jeff Forret one of three finalists for the 18th annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize for his publication of “Slave Against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South and New Directions in Slavery Studies” by LSU Press.

Dr. Jeff ForretThe Frederick Douglass Book Prize is an award for the study of the African American experience, and the $25,000 prize recognizes the best book on slavery, resistance or abolition. The winner will be announced in the fall.

Slave Against Slave” provides a new look into antebellum slave communities. The idea for the publication came about when, while conducting research for a previous book, he found much documentation of southern white violence but little about violence between slaves. He set out to write the book himself.

“Slave Against Slave” challenges prevailing ideas of pre-Civil War slave communities in the U.S. South as uniformly harmonious. Personal and work disputes, marital disputes, affairs, damaged honor, debt and status differences within slave communities all contributed to violence between and among slaves. Using primary sources such as court records, church records, slave narratives, and travelers’ accounts, Forret hopes not to dismiss the ideas of slave resilience and solidarity, but rather to “strike a better balance” by giving a more complete understanding of slave life and culture.

Slave Against Slave

In addition to the Frederick Douglass Book Prize nomination, "Slave against Slave" earned an honorable mention in the U.S. history category at the 2016 Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Awards.

Forret is a Distinguished Faculty Research Fellow and the 2016 University Scholar Award winner. He received a William Nelson Cromwell Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to research his next book, a legal history of the domestic slave trade titled "Williams' Gang: A Slave Trader, His Cargo, and Justice in the Old South."

A social historian specializing in southern history and slavery, Forret joined Lamar University in 2005. In addition to U.S. history surveys, he teaches courses on the Old South, slavery, colonial America, the early republic, antebellum America and race and sex in American history, among others. Forret serves as the graduate director for the history department.

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize is named for Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the former slave who escaped servitude to become one of the great American abolitionists, authors and orators of the 19th century. The Frederick Douglass Book Prize was established in 1999 to encourage scholarship in the field by honoring outstanding accomplishments.