Annette Gordon-Reed, J.D. ’84, has been named winner of the 2010 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award. Gordon-Reed is a professor at Harvard Law School, a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Campus & Community

Gordon-Reed wins MacArthur Award

3 min read

Harvard historian can use funds to assist her research on race

Annette Gordon-Reed, an award-winning author and a professor at Harvard University, has been named a 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Gordon-Reed, J.D. ’84, holds several University appointments. She is a professor at Harvard Law School (HLS), a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

MacArthur fellowships are awarded annually to talented individuals in many fields who have shown exceptional originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. Each fellow receives $500,000, bestowed without conditions. Nominated anonymously by leaders in their fields and never notified of their candidacies in advance, the recipients learn of their selections only several days before the grant announcements. The awards were announced today (Sept. 28).

Gordon-Reed, who returned to Harvard this year, is the author of  “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy” (1997), which examines the intimate personal relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, who was his slave. Her most recent book, “The Hemingses of Monticello” (2008), which traces the lives of four generations of the slave family, won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her current research follows diverse branches of the family tree that considered themselves white or black into the 19th century.

“Receiving a MacArthur grant is obviously an amazing experience,” Gordon-Reed said. “It’s a validation of my work.”

She is the co-author of “Vernon Can Read! A Memoir” (2001), which was written with Vernon Jordan Jr. and received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. She is editor of “Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History” (2002).

Previously, Gordon-Reed was the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law at New York Law School and the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University. She served as the Charles Warren Visiting Professor of American Legal History during fall 2009 at Harvard Law School.

Last year, two Harvard professors won similar MacArthurs, Peter Huybers, an assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences, and Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The awards are funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

To learn more.