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2020-2021 A&S Distinguished Professor Lecture

Writing Civil War History in the Twenty-First Century

Amy Murrell Taylor - 2020-21 A&S Distinguished Professor

Monument removals, the New York Times’ 1619 Project, the renaming of schools and more have all drawn unprecedented attention to the distortions and silences surrounding the history of race in the United States. This public reckoning has given the work of historians renewed urgency--and made the effort to uncover elements of the long-hidden past newly meaningful today. This talk, with UK A&S Distinguished Professor and historian Amy Murrell Taylor, will describe that work while telling the largely untold story of how slavery collapsed in a refugee crisis during the American Civil War. The hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who fled slavery and sought refuge behind the lines of the Union army guaranteed the destruction of the institution once and for all. But it is only now, over 150 years later, that their experience is becoming visible and their names and identities known.

Amy Murrell Taylor is the T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor in the Department of History and a faculty affiliate of the African American and Africana Studies Program. A native of Rockville, Maryland, she received an AB in History from Duke University and an MA and PhD in History from the University of Virginia. She arrived at the University of Kentucky in 2012 after eleven years teaching at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Taylor’s research on the history of the Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. Her most recent book, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps (UNC Press, 2018), was honored with multiple national awards, including the Frederick Douglass Prize given by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, and the Merle Curti Social History Prize from the Organization of American Historians. Taylor is also the author of The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005), and co-editor (with Michael Perman) of Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Cengage, 2010). Her teaching at UK has been honored with the 2019 Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, and the UK Alumni Association’s Great Teacher Award in 2016. She was named a University Research Professor in 2020.