Award Winning Literary Scholar to Present Veryl L. Riddle Distinguished History Lecture


A distinguished scholar with the School of American Research (SAR) and director of the SAR Press will deliver the annual Veryl L. Riddle Distinguished History Lecture  Feb. 11 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Dr. James Brooks will speak on “Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the American Southwest.” The lecture is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

Brooks received an unprecedented five awards for his first book, Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2002. The Organization of American Historians presented Brooks with the 2003 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, which is given for an author’s first book on a significant phase of American history. Columbia University awarded the book a 2003 Bancroft Prize that recognizes exceptional books in the field of American history. The Society of American Historians awarded Captives & Cousins the 2003 Francis Parkman Prize for the best book in American history. The Western History Association honored the book with its W. Turrentine Jackson prize for the best first book on the American West. The book also won the Frederick Douglass prize from the Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University for the best book on slavery.

Officials with the University of North Carolina Press say that for a first book to win three awards simultaneously is truly an unprecedented event.

“The two additional prizes awarded later underscore the book’s extraordinary impact among historians in a wide range of specialties,” they said.

The book also was honored last year by the Denver Public Library as a Caroline Bancroft Honor Book for being an outstanding book in the history of the American West. Also in 2003, the book received the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize for best book-length contribution to the field of ethnohistory by the American Society for Ethnohistory.

The School of American Research, where Brooks directs the School’s Press, was established in Sante Fe, N.M., in 1907 as a center for the study of the archaeology and ethnology of the American Southwest. Since 1967, the scope of the School’s activities has embraced a global perspective through programs to encourage advanced scholarship in anthropology and related social science disciplines and the humanities, and to facilitate the work of Native American scholars and artists and further their art.

In addition to his work with the School of American Research, Brooks is an adjunct associate professor of history at the University of CaliforniaᾰSanta Barbara. He previously served as an assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland–College Park and as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in the School of Social Science’s Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He has lectured and given numerous presentations at conferences and professional meetings, including the American Historical Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Navajo Studies Association and Dartmouth College on various aspects of the borderlands and other topics.

He holds a doctoral degree in history from the University of CaliforniaᾰDavis. He also is the editor of Confounding the Color Line: the Indian-Black Experience in North America published in 2002 by the University of Nebraska Press. Two additional works of Brooks, Nations, Tribes, and Colours: Borderland Peoples and a History for the Twenty-first Century is under contract with Harvard University Press, and Mesa of Sorrows: Archaeology, Purity, and Prophetic Violence in the Southwest Borderlands is in preparation.

The Riddle Distinguished History Lecture Series, which is dedicated to bringing outstanding historians to campus on an annual basis, is made possible by an endowment from Mr. and Mrs. Veryl Riddle, a prominent St. Louis attorney who was born and raised on a farm in Dunklin County, graduated from Campbell High School and attended Southeast for two years.

He served in World War II from 1942 to 1945. Following the war, he received his law degree from Washington University and returned to Dunklin County, where he practiced law for 17 years. From 1967 to 1969, Riddle served as U.S. attorney in St. Louis, later joining the Bryan Cave Law firm, then a small firm, now one of the largest legal firms in the nation.

For more information on the lecture, call Dr. Frank Nickell, director of the Center for Regional History, at (573) 651-2833.