LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 1, 2019) — Elizabeth Leonard’s “Slaves, Slaveholders, and a Kentucky Community’s Struggle toward Freedom” is the 2019 winner of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation’s Medallion Award. Leonard is a history professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
The nonprofit Clark Foundation gives the annual award in support of the University Press of Kentucky (UPK), which published Leonard’s book. After reviewing several top UPK books published in 2019, a committee of the foundation chose Leonard’s book because of its high standards for research and writing exemplified by the award’s namesake, the late, distinguished historian Thomas D. Clark.
“Much of what we know about Kentucky history and culture rests on works published by the University Press of Kentucky, and Professor Leonard’s book adds greatly to this tradition,” said Stan Macdonald, president of the Clark Foundation’s board.
Leonard spoke at an event in her honor on Sept. 17 at The Filson Historical Society in Louisville. The event was sponsored by the Clark Foundation, University Press of Kentucky and The Filson Historical Society.
“She illuminates with pace and clarity the dramatic personal journey of Joseph Holt as he rises from the shackles of his large slaveholding family in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, to a prominent position in President Lincoln’s administration and a life advocating for emancipation and civil rights," Macdonald said. "Unearthing hard-to-find historical records, the author also pieces together the lives of slaves from this same area of Kentucky, including the story of Sandy Holt, who had been acquired by Joseph Holt and who later joined the 118th United States Colored Infantry during the Civil War.”
The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that includes all of the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. The press’ editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at the University of Kentucky, which provides financial support toward the operating expenses of the publishing operation.