Academy Article
May 14, 2024

Jacqueline Jones Wins Pulitzer Prize – Currently Writing Academy History


Academy member and historian Jacqueline Jones, who is currently at work on a history of the Academy, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her book No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era.

No Right to an Honest Living chronicles the struggles of Boston’s Black workers during the Civil War era, as they were denied access to the skilled trades, factory work, and public works projects. The Pulitzer Board called it a “breathtakingly original reconstruction of free Black life in Boston that profoundly reshapes our understanding of the city’s abolitionist legacy and the challenging reality for its Black residents.”

Jones, a distinguished historian of U. S. labor, urban, southern, African American, and women’s history, is the Ellen C. Temple Chair in Women’s History Emerita at the University of Texas at Austin. She has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America and Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present, which also won the Bancroft Prize. She was elected to the Academy in 2002.

“Jackie Jones has become a standard-bearer for American historians. She brings daring research, thoughtful analysis, and exquisite prose to all her projects,” David Oxtoby, President of the Academy. “She rightly joins the ranks of Pulitzer winners, and we are very excited to read her history of the Academy.”

The Academy commissioned Jones in 2023 to author a history of the Academy. The book will provide a forthright assessment of the Academy’s activities and membership since its establishment in 1780, by situating the organization’s development within the larger history of the nation it was created to serve. The book will be published in 2030, marking the Academy’s 250th anniversary.

“I’m honored to be writing a history of the Academy.  The Academy’s rich archival resources spanning nearly 250 years make this an especially exciting—and challenging—project,” said Jones.  “I hope the book will illuminate Academy members’ pursuit of knowledge, as well as the limits of that pursuit in light of exclusionary membership policies until well into the twentieth century.  I’m aiming to highlight the Academy’s achievements and also the fascinating characters I have encountered in the course of my research.”

Prior to the book’s publication, the Academy is acting on its commitment to reckon with its history by sharing information about its members, milestones, and work in a new section of its website. The new resource will expand and grow as more research is undertaken, more archival materials are processed, and there is more information to share.




A Book on the History of the Academy

Catherine Allgor, Craig Calhoun, Dan Cohen, Paula J. Giddings, David A. Hollinger, Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, David M. Rubenstein, and Ben Vinson