The Schomburg Center Announces the Winner of the Lapidus Center’s 2022 Harriet Tubman Prize

Dr. Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried, receives $7,500 prize

December 16, 2022—The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is pleased to announce that Dr. Tiya Miles is the winner of the 2022 Harriet Tubman Prize for her book All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House, 2021). 

The Harriet Tubman Prize awards $7,500 to the best nonfiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World.

A jury composed of distinguished historians Drs. Vincent Brown, Marisa Fuentes, and Paul Polgar selected the winner from three finalists chosen by a national committee of librarians and scholars. In addition to Miles’s All That She Carried, the other finalists were Dr. Olivette Otele’s African Europeans: An Untold History (Basic Books) and Dr. Joshua D. Rothman’s The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America (Basic Books).

The jury commented about the winning title:

“Tiya Miles’s All That She Carried [renders] complex, fraught, and painful life worlds palpable, through the analysis of an embroidered cotton bag passed from mother to daughter across several generations. From an ordinary and treasured object with intimate meaning, Miles weaves a wide-ranging and profound story that captures the poignancy of American slavery and its legacies. She also bestows on us her gift of storytelling. Undeterred by the robust, deafening and often gaping silence of slavery’s archives, Miles creatively draws interdisciplinary methods from a range of fields including black feminist and environmental studies, and public history, to chart not only the trauma and loss of enslavement but, more centrally, the love and resilience enslaved people expressed within its bounds. Beautifully, and at several points lyrically, written, Miles’s path-breaking book conjures the perspectives of Black women in slavery and freedom and reveals their determination to imagine a future and family—two things denied by slavery’s laws and violence. From what might have been a simple exhibit label and artifact, Miles draws together the story of families, the study of material culture, and the red record of American slavery to construct a haunting museum for the history of the present.”

“I am elated to receive the 2022 Harriet Tubman Prize for All That She Carried. To have my book share space with the memory of that great woman is an honor made even more special as I am currently writing a study of her life. I am grateful for the recognition of the Lapidus Center and moved by the beautiful commentary of judges whose work I greatly admire,” Dr. Miles said. 

Dr. Michelle Commander, Deputy Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the Schomburg Center, praised this year’s prize winner, “I have always found Dr. Miles’ scholarship thoughtfully rendered and expertly researched. I am thrilled to see this incredibly-inspiring book win the 2022 Harriet Tubman Prize. All That She Carried is a moving account of slavery and its aftermath that offers insight into the intricacies of Black familial life and care in midst of and after slavery, including the extraordinary endeavors of Black women to survive, love, and show reverence across generations. Indeed, All That She Carried quite beautifully constructs a narrative centered on three women–Rose, Ashley, and Ruth, rightfully situating their lives and histories into the archive and into readers’ consciousnesses in an indelible manner.”

Dr.Tiya Miles is the Michael Garvey Professor of History and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. 

The 2022 Harriet Tubman Prize will be presented to Dr. Miles during a Lapidus Center program in Spring 2023. Details are forthcoming. 

 

About the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery 

The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, founded in 2014 with a generous $2.5 million gift from Ruth and Sid Lapidus, generates and disseminates scholarly knowledge and works on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery pertaining to the Atlantic World. The Center supports the work of researchers with long-term and short-term fellowships. Given the centrality of Atlantic slavery to the making of the modern world, Lapidus fellowships ensure that slavery studies are a cornerstone of the Schomburg Center’s broader research community. The Center engages the public with a variety of programs, an annual nonfiction book prize, exhibitions, conferences, and partnerships with local, national, and international institutions. Dr. Commander is the author of Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic, Avidly Reads Passages, and editor of Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition.  To learn more about the Lapidus Center, please visit https://www.nypl.org/spotlight/lapidus-center.

About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diasporan, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections totaling over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture. Learn more at schomburgcenter.org.

About the New York Public Library 

For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With over 90 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.

 

Media Contacts

Contact: Leah Drayton, leahdrayton@nypl.org