Today we’re excited to announce that historian Dylan C. Penningroth has been awarded a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Penningroth is author of The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South, which earned the 2004 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians.
In this video, Penningroth talks about the sources he uses in his research on African Americans’ legal history from slavery to civil rights and how the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship will help him expand that research.
From the MacArthur Foundation’s announcement:
Dylan C. Penningroth is a historian who examines shifting concepts of property ownership and kinship in order to shed light on long-obscured aspects of African American life under slavery and in the half-century following slavery’s abolition. In his book The Claims of Kinfolk (2003), he elucidates the informal customs that slaves in the antebellum South used to recognize ownership of property, even while they were themselves considered by law to be property at the time. He also traces the interactions of these extra-legal, vernacular customs with the formal realm of law after emancipation by teasing stories of claims and disputes from such sources as the Freedman’s Bureau and Southern Claims Commission records compiled by the federal government after the Civil War. In addition to demonstrating that ownership of land, livestock, and other material possessions was much more widespread among slave communities than previously believed, Penningroth’s research draws out the underlying social relations and reliance on family members’ labor that made such ownership possible.
As a fellow, Penningroth will receive $500,000 with “no strings attached” over the next five years. Penninngroth is the second UNC Press author to receive the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Last year, Tiya Miles was awarded the Fellowship.
We congratulate Dylan C. Penninroth on earning this great recognition, and we are proud to have had the honor of publishing his work. We look forward to learning more as his research continues.