Dr. Jeff Forret awarded State Historical Society of Iowa research grant

Dr. Jeff Forret, professor of history at Lamar University, has been awarded a State Historical Society of Iowa Research Grant for 2024-2025. The $1,500 grant supports research on topics related to the history of Iowa and the Midwest.  Jeff Forret

Dr. Forret is currently researching a book manuscript tentatively titled "Land of Black Hawk, River of Dred: Indigenous Expulsion, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Upper Mississippi and America."  

“It [the book] is a history of the Upper Mississippi River, from north of St. Louis to Fort Snelling, before the Civil War,” Forret said. “Centering the roles of Native Americans and African Americans, the book will draw out the relationship between the dispossession of the Sauk, Meskwaki, Ho Chunk, and Dakota peoples and the loss of Black citizenship through the Dred Scott decision of 1857.” 

The grant will further Dr. Forret’s efforts to illuminate the complex history of the Upper Mississippi River region and its profound implications for American history. Dr. Forret emphasized the importance of his research in Iowa City and Des Moines. 

“My research in dozens of manuscript collections in Iowa City and Des Moines, documenting early settler families, politicians, and military sites, will help provide the detail to draw out the social, economic, and political facets of the broader story,” Forrett said. 

Dr. Forret was named University Professor in 2023 and has held the title of Dr. Ralph and Edna Wooster Professor of History for the 2022-2024 term. He has also been recognized as an LU Distinguished Faculty Research Fellow from 2016-2021, Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in 2020, and University Scholar Award winner in 2016.  

Dr. Forret has a distinguished record of scholarship, including numerous influential works.  

Forret is the author of “Williams' Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black” which is a legal history of the coastwise domestic slave trade. Funded by a William Nelson Cromwell Fellowship and an NEH Summer Stipend, it won the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) 2021 Leadership in History Award in the large press category.  

Forret is also the author of “Slave Against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South” which won the 18th annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize awarded by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. It also earned an honorable mention in the U.S. history category at the 2016 Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Awards and was a finalist for the Harriet Tubman Book Prize given by the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery.  

Additionally, he co-edited “Southern Scoundrels: Grifters and Graft in the Nineteenth Century” (with Bruce E. Baker) and “New Directions in Slavery Studies: Commodification, Community, and Comparison” with Christine Sears. Other notable works include “Slavery in the United States” and “Race Relations at the Margins: Slaves and Poor Whites in the Antebellum Southern Countryside." 

To learn more about Dr. Forret’s work, visit https://www.lamar.edu/arts-sciences/history/faculty-staff/jeff-forret.html