“Captivating,” “Superb” Research on Slavery by Pace Professor Wins Major History Prize

Jean Fagan Yellin, an emerita professor of English at Pace University and the scholar whose research rescued from obscurity Harriet Jacobs, the only woman held in slavery who wrote her own narrative of life in the “peculiar institution,” has won the American Historical Association’s. J. Franklin Jameson Prize.

Contact: Chris Cory, Pace University, 212-346-1117, cell 917-608-8164, ccory@pace.edu

Pace University professor Jean Fagan Yellin wins prize for “captivating,” “superb” research on literate woman held in slavery

American Historical Association’s Jameson Prize given only once in five years

New York, NY, February 17, 2010– Jean Fagan Yellin, an emerita professor of English at Pace University and the scholar whose research rescued from obscurity Harriet Jacobs, the only woman held in slavery who wrote her own narrative of life in the “peculiar institution,” has won the American Historical Association’s. J. Franklin Jameson Prize.

Given only once every five years, the prize recognizes “outstanding achievement in the editing of historical sources.”

Referring to the last of Yellin’s three books about Jacobs, “The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers” (Duke University Press, 2008), the citation says Yellin’s work is “vivid,” “captivating,” and “superb”:

“Drawing on prodigious research in numerous archives, Jean Fagan Yellin and her assistant editors provide a remarkably vivid portrait of Harriet Jacobs and her world. The documents themselves are captivating, but so too are Yellin’s efforts to interpret them through her superb introduction, extensive notes, helpful biographical sketches, and other editorial elements. These two elegant and beautifully illustrated volumes, along with the accompanying CD-ROM, are an extraordinary resource for researchers and teachers alike.”

Joseph Thomas was Executive Editor of the book, and Kate Culkin and Scott Korb were Associate Editors. Yellin also credits the research work of “generations of Pace students.” The award was announced at the American Historical Association’s annual convention in January.

Advent of an icon

Previously, Yellin had won the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Prize for the year’s best non-fiction book on slavery, resistance and/or abolition, and the William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association, both for her Jacobs biography, “Harriet Jacobs, A Life” (Basic Civitas, 2004). Earlier she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for “Women and Sisters: The Anti-Slavery Feminists in American Culture” (Yale University Press, 1989). Pace awarded her an honorary degree in 2007.

Yellin is widely acknowledged for playing a catalytic role in making Jacobs an iconic figure whose recognition is fast approaching that of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. What distinguishes Jacobs from Truth and Tubman is her literacy. Unlike most slaves, she was taught to write. She is the only known slave to have recorded first-hand accounts of the particular indignities women faced in slavery, of her struggle to write her life story, and of the cruel Reconstruction-era milieu.

For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu. Visit Pace on the web: Pace.edu | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube. Follow Pace students on Twitter: NYC | PLV

Pace professor’s rediscovery of US slave Harriet Jacobs to climax with new book, Oct. 20 reception

Twenty two years ago, in a room housing mostly-obscure archives, a professor at Pace University chanced on a letter written after the US Civil War by a woman named Harriet Jacobs. The scholar, Jean Fagan Yellin, previously had known Jacobs as a fake. Supposedly, Jacobs (1813-1897) had written a riveting narrative of her life as a slave in North Carolina, but since slaves were kept illiterate, scholars had dismissed the book as nothing more than an abolitionist tract ghosted by the well-known white author listed as the editor. Yellin’s instincts told her differently.

Contact Christopher T. Cory, Pace University Public Information Cell 917 608 8164m ccory@pace.edu

Journalists can obtain a CD of the complete “Papers,” including photos and period cartoons and illustrations, and review copies, from the University of North Carolina Press, Gina_Mahalek@unc.edu, 919-962-0581.

Yellin is available for interviews in person and by telephone in New York through November 21, then in Sarasota, Florida, and in North Carolina November 22 and 23.

PUBLICATON OF “HARRIET JACOBS FAMILY PAPERS” TO CLIMAX REDISCOVERY OF THE SLAVE HARRIET JACOBS BY PACE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR JEAN FAGAN YELLIN

Inspiring narrative once dismissed as ghost-written is now a classic Other Jacobs writings and background materials to be published in definitive edition Nov. 1 by University of North Carolina Press

New York, NY, October 8, 2008 – Twenty two years ago, in a room housing mostly-obscure archives, a professor at Pace University chanced on a letter written after the US Civil War by a woman named Harriet Jacobs. The scholar, Jean Fagan Yellin, previously had known Jacobs as a fake. Supposedly, Jacobs (1813-1897) had written a riveting narrative of her life as a slave in North Carolina, but since slaves were kept illiterate, scholars had dismissed the book as nothing more than an abolitionist tract ghosted by the well-known white author listed as the editor. Yellin’s instincts told her differently.

A literary scholar, she had read Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” and now, as she read the letter, similarities of style and tone began to make her suspect that “Incidents” was written by the same person. That suspicion was the thread that led to the next 22 years of Yellin’s scholarly life, to her rescue of Jacobs from over 100 years of obscurity — and to the discovery of a new American hero. Yellin proved beyond doubt that Jacobs book had indeed been “written by herself,” as its subtitle said. Thanks to Yellin, that book is now a classic and on the reading lists of most American students. Because of Yellin’s advocacy volume (published by Harvard University Press) and her biography (Basic Books), not to mention Jacobs’ eloquence, courage in escaping from a sexually-abusive master, and later work as a social worker, abolitionist and journalist, Jacobs’ story has been told in children’s books, in adaptations for the theater, and on television.

Yellin has established her as an American equal in stature to Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Culmination.

On November 1, what one scholar has called Yellin’s “monumental” work on Jacobs’ remarkable life reaches a quiet climax in events marking the publication by the University of North Carolina Press of Yellin’s two-volume, definitive collection of “The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers.”

On Monday, October 20, a New York City reception honoring Yellin’s work and the “Papers” will be hosted by Pace University’s English department;

On Saturday, November 22, historical reflections and a reception will go along with a tour led by Yellin of Jacobs haunts in Edenton, North Carolina, the town where Jacobs was enslaved and where her story now is part of the Chamber of Commerce website;

On Sunday, November 23, presentations and a reception will take place at the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Decorative Arts in Wilmington, NC, where Yellin did research. The papers provide new information on Jacobs’ life after her escape; on the fights against slavery, racism and sexism of which she was a significant part; and on Jacobs’ relevance to other issues including refugees and how people emerge from slavery. In 1853 Jacobs wrote to a friend: “God… gave me a soul that burned for freedom and a heart nerved with determination to suffer even unto death in pursuit of that liberty which without, makes life an intolerable burden.” This year, Yellin told a Public Radio interviewer: “To me, what’s most important is that she took hold of her life and she had self-respect and a sense of selfhood, and that she thought she could control her life even within limits. And she thought she could sort of help change the world. And she did. “Often, we feel powerless – certainly, pregnant 16-year-old girls seem to feel pretty powerless. And to think that she accomplished that is, to me, quite amazing. She ends up a completely self-respecting woman.”

For 102 years Pace University has produced “professionals who think” by providing high quality professional education resting on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling more than 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Law School, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

National Conference on Present-Day Legacies of Slavery and Sisterhood at Pace Friday, Saturday

Pace University is hosting a two-day conference on Harriet Jacobs, the first American slave woman to write an autobiography.

MEDIA ALERT
Contacts: Christopher T. Cory, 212-346-1117, Cell 917-608-8164, ccory@pace.edu
Frank Lentini, 212-481-7000 ext. 3223, frankl@mbooth.com

PACE UNIVERSITY CONVENES MAJOR HARRIET JACOBS CONFERENCE

“The story of the centrality of slavery in American life remains largely untold.” — Jean Fagan Yellin

The Legacies of Slavery and Sisterhood: The Life and Work of Harriet Jacobs — To highlight that unheeded story, including its roots and its contemporary dimensions in the US and many places in the world, Pace University is hosting a two-day conference on Harriet Jacobs, the first American slave woman to write an autobiography. The conference also is expected to revise Jacobs’ place in American history and literature. It includes roundtable discussions, the world premiere of a play based on Jacobs’s life, a dramatic reading by stage and screen star Ruby Dee, and the presentation of 17 original research papers. One panel brings together Donna Brazile, one of the most powerful women in Washington with Mende Nazer, a former slave whose life mirrors that of Jacobs. Among the participants are historians, other scholars and journalists, including a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. www.pace.edu/dyson/HarrietJacobsConf

Who (partial list):
• Jean Fagan Yellin (Keynoter), author of “Harriet Jacobs: A Life,” best known for now-classic editions of Jacobs’s narrative, “Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself.”
• Donna Brazile, a leading political strategist whose ideas help shape the Democratic platform on race and the first African American woman to run a national election campaign (Gore-Lieberman 2000).
• Mende Nazer, a Nubian who was sold into slavery in Khartoum at age 12 and who made a break for freedom in London, later writing her memoir, “Slave.”
• David Reynolds, Professor of English at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York and author of “John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights” (2005).
• Ruby Dee, award-winning actress whose credits include Purlie Victorious, (written by her late husband Ossie Davis), A Raisin in the Sun, Payton Place and Do the Right Thing..

What When & Where
Junior Historian’s Lecture & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – A play adapted from Jacobs’s writings brought to life in a Literature to Life ® adaptation commissioned by the New York Historical Society performed by the American Place Theatre. Special preview for high school students. Thursday, Oct. 5th, 9:30 am
Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza
Conference, including six panel discussions, two keynote addresses, and a dramatic reading by Ruby Dee. Friday, Oct. 6th, & Saturday, Oct. 7th, 8 am- 6 pm, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – (Play)
FREE TO THE PUBLIC Friday, Oct. 6th, 8 pm,
Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza

Why: By examining the works of the only literate slave woman whose papers are known to exist, the often overlooked centrality of slavery in American life can be brought into a sharper focus. But the conference is about much more than a woman who could write a passionate narrative of her life as a slave, for Harriet Jacobs became an abolitionist, an educator, a patriot who called for liberty for the oppressed everywhere.

Harriet Jacobs Conference, October 6-7, New York City campus

In a major effort to revise her place in American history and literature, Pace University will host a conference on Harriet Jacobs, the first American slave woman to write an autobiography, on its downtown New York City campus October 6-7.

Contacts:
Christopher T. Cory, Public Information, Pace, 212-346-1117
Frank Lentini, M. Booth and Associates, 212-481-7000

PACE UNIVERSITY PLANS HARRIET JACOBS CONFERENCE

Recasting Her Role as a Major Contributor to American
Literature and Black Activism

One of Four National Conferences in Six Weeks to Mark Pace Centennial

NEW YORK, NY, June 7, 2006 — In a major effort to revise her place in American history and literature, Pace University will host a conference on Harriet Jacobs, the first American slave woman to write an autobiography, on its downtown New York City campus October 6-7.
“This conference will emphasize Jacobs’s role as a major contributor to the black literary tradition, which she helped establish with her narrative,” said David A. Caputo, president of Pace. “Literary discoveries made at Pace have dispelled myths about her work, proving that she authored the most important antebellum autobiography by an African American woman, and in doing gave an irreplaceable picture of American culture.”

Drawing eminent historians and literary scholars from across the country, “The Legacies of Slavery and Sisterhood: The Life and Work of Harriet Jacobs” will include six panel discussions and a roundtable on the current implications of her writing and life. Actress Ruby Dee will give a reading from Jacobs’s harrowing account of her escape from slavery in 1842. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself, first published pseudonymously in 1861. Jacobs hid herself in a three-foot-high crawl space above a storeroom, living there for seven years before fleeing the South.

For more information on the conference, which is open to the public but requires advance registration, visit www.pace.edu/dyson/HarrietJacobsConf

Authenticity Verified. Incidents was rescued from obscurity by a Pace professor, Jean Fagan Yellin, whose work solved the mystery of who actually wrote the book and what it is. For more than 125 years, Incidents was assumed to be a novel written by a white author. But Yellin discovered and published correspondence from Jacobs, proving Incidents was indeed “written by herself,” as its subtitle announces, and not by Lydia Maria Child, a white abolitionist writer whose authorship commentators had long assumed. In 1987, Professor Yellin published a classic edition of Incidents with Harvard University Press.

After fleeing the South, Jacobs became an abolitionist activist in the North. During the Civil War, she worked behind the Union lines, in Virginia establishing a school among the refugees from slavery. After Emancipation, she actively sought to reform conditions among the freed people, traveling to England to raise funds for black Savannah.

In 2004, Yellin published the widely acclaimed Harriet Jacobs: A Life. The biography won the prestigious Frederick Douglass Book Prize awarded by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, the first biography ever to do so, and also won the William Sanders Scarborough Prize of the Modern Language Association.

To this day, Jacobs is the only African American woman held in slavery whose papers are known to exist. To edit a two-volume collection of the papers, scheduled for publication by the University of North Carolina Press in 2007, Yellin has received grants from funders including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Archives, the Ford Foundation and the Delmas Foundation. The Harriet Jacobs Papers consist of approximately 400 items, including writings by Jacobs, her brother John S. Jacobs, and her daughter Louisa Matilda Jacobs.

Jacobs’s spirit was as indomitable as her life was remarkable. She lived as a slave, a fugitive targeted for kidnapping, a writer, a reformer, a lecturer and an activist. She worked closely with abolitionists and early feminists, provided emergency relief, founded her free school for blacks in Alexandria, Virginia, and raised funds for the black community. Her reform and philanthropic efforts were acknowledged when she was named to the executive committee of the Women’s Loyal National League, headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, in 1864.
Scholars Celebrate Her Remarkable Life. The conference list of panel participants is a veritable who’s who of literary scholars and historians, including some of the nation’s foremost authorities on slavery and authors whose works have formed the basis of the recent public television series “Slavery and the Making of America.” “The Legacies of Slavery and Sisterhood: The Life and Work of Harriet Jacobs” will take place in Pace’s Michael Schimmel Theatre, starting at 9 a.m., October 6, with an opening keynote address by Professor Yellin. The actress Ruby Dee will conclude the conference with a reading from Harriet Jacobs’s writings.

Among Harriet Jacobs conference participants are:
• Nina Baym of the University of Illinois at Urbana and general editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature.
• Ira Berlin of the University of Maryland and co-author of books including Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in Mainland North America (1999) and co-editor of Slavery in New York, a companion book to the exhibition at the New-York Historical Society.
• Frances Smith Foster of Emory University and co-editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature and The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.
• James Oliver Horton of George Washington University, Director of the Afro-American Communities Project of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, author of nine books including the companion book for the WNET PBS series “Slavery and the Making of America,” which aired in 2005.
• Nell Painter of Princeton University (retired), president-designate of the Southern Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians and author of Creating Black Americans.
• Arnold Rampersad of Stanford University, who has written acclaimed biographies of W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes and Jackie Robinson and a memoir with Arthur Ashe.
This conference is one of four nationally significant conferences taking place at Pace within six weeks this fall. “Aftershock: Rethinking the Future Since September 11, 2001” takes place September 6-8 with keynotes by Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the federal Centennial Commission, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and White House policy advisor David Gergen. The October 6-7 “slavery and sisterhood” conference is followed October 16-20 at the Pace Law School by a global gathering of lawyers and environmentalists analyzing recent progress and problems in enforcing environmental laws. A Founders Day symposium on the future of higher education in a global society is November 29.

“Slavery and Sisterhood” is part of a Pace Centennial lecture and performance series called “100 Conversations.” The Centennial also included a speech, in March, by former President Bill Clinton, and is proceeding with a yearlong volunteer initiative called “100 Opportunities for Service and Civic Engagement” and “Roll Back the Clock Day,” during which the Pace cafeterias will offer representative 1906 food items at 1906 prices.
About Pace University Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2006, Pace is a private university in the New York metropolitan area with a growing national reputation for offering students opportunity, teaching and learning based on research, civic involvement, international perspectives and measurable outcomes. It is one of the 10 founders of Project Pericles, developing education that encourages lifelong participation in democratic processes. Pace has campuses including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. The University enrolls over 14,000 students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, and Pace Law School. For more information, visit the Pace University Website, pace.edu.

Yellin Honored with MLA Award

The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its fourth annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize to Jean Fagan Yellin, of Pace University, for her book Harriet Jacobs: A Life, published by Basic Civitas Books. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of black American literature or culture. Yellin will receive a certificate and a check for $1,000.

The following release was issued by the Modern Language Association of America about its prize to Pace University Professor Emerita, Jean Fagan Yellin.

JEAN FAGAN YELLIN TO RECEIVE MLA`S WILLIAM SANDERS SCARBOROUGH PRIZE FOR AN OUTSTANDING SCHOLARLY STUDY OF BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE OR CULTURE

New York, NY – 30 November 2005 – The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its fourth annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize to Jean Fagan Yellin, of Pace University, for her book Harriet Jacobs: A Life, published by Basic Civitas Books. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of black American literature or culture. Yellin will receive a certificate and a check for $1,000.

The William Sanders Scarborough Prize is one of eighteen awards that will be presented on 28 December 2005 during the association`s annual convention, held this year in Washington, DC. The members of the selection committee were Wahneema Lubiano (Duke Univ.); Dwight A. McBride (Northwestern Univ.), chair; and Kenneth Warren (Univ. of Chicago). The committee`s citation for the winning book reads:

Harriet Jacobs: A Life exemplifies the scholarly depth, organizational precision, and attention to the requirements of form that one hopes for in a biography and conveys the larger narrative that a great biography delivers to us-that is, the general life of the social order in which the particular life is lived. While attending to the relation of material life to affective life, Jean Fagan Yellin conveys some understanding of the interiority of the historical Jacobs without producing a sentimental idealism of the person. While constructing a relentlessly researched narrative of the limits of Jacobs`s existence, Yellin nonetheless makes certain our understanding of the possibilities of Jacobs`s life. Bringing texture to Jacobs`s well-known story, the book is at once clear and complicated, sweeping but nuanced, elegant and poignant.

Jean Fagan Yellin, distinguished professor Emerita at Pace University, is author of Women and Sisters: The Anti-slavery Feminists in American Culture and The Intricate Knot: Black Figures in American Literature, 1776-1863. She has also edited Harriet Jacobs`s 1861 slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself, and editions of Uncle Tom`s Cabin, Margret Howth, and Clotel. She is coeditor of The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Antislavery and Women`s Political Culture and co compiler of the bibliography The Pen Is Ours: A Listing of Writings by African-American Women to 1910, with Secondary Bibliography to the Present. She has received grants from such institutions as the National Endowment for the Humanities; the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. She is currently completing work on the Harriet Jacobs Papers, which will result in the first scholarly edition of the papers of an African-American woman held in slavery.

The MLA, the largest and one of the oldest American learned societies in the humanities (est. 1883), promotes the advancement of literary and linguistic studies. The 30,000 members of the association come from all fifty states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. PMLA, the association`s flagship journal of literary scholarship, has published distinguished scholarly articles for over one hundred years. Approximately 9,500 members of the MLA and its allied and affiliate organizations attend the association`s annual convention each December. The MLA is a constituent of the American Council of Learned Societies and the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures.

The William Sanders Scarborough Prize was established in 2001 and named for the first African American member of the MLA. It is awarded under the auspices of the Committee on Honors and Awards and was presented for the first time in 2002, when the winner was Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. In 2003, the award went to Maurice O. Wallace. The award in 2004 was given to Joanna Brooks, with Thadious M. Davis and Susan Gillman both receiving honorable mentions.

Other awards sponsored by the committee are the William Riley Parker Prize; the James Russell Lowell Prize; the MLA Prize for a First Book; the Howard R. Marraro Prize; the Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize; the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize; the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars; the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize; the Morton N. Cohen Award; the MLA Prizes for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition and for a Distinguished Bibliography; the Lois Roth Award; the Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize; the MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies; and the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prizes for Comparative Literary Studies, for French and Francophone Studies, for Italian Studies, for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures, for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, for a Translation of a Literary Work, for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature, and for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies.

William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) was the first African American member of the Modern Language Association. Brought up in the South, Scarborough was a dedicated student of languages and literature. He attended Atlanta University and graduated in 1875 from Oberlin College, where he later received an MA degree. After teaching at various southern schools, Scarborough was appointed professor of Latin and Greek at Wilberforce University. He later served as president of the university from 1908 through 1920. Scarborough`s published works include First Lessons in Greek (1881) and Birds of Aristophanes (1886) and many articles in national magazines, including Forum and Arena. In 1882 he was the third black man to be elected membership to the American Philological Association. Scarborough`s areas of interest included classical philology and linguistics with an emphasis on Negro dialects.

NY Historical Society Hosts Pace Professor Emerita Jean Yellin Talk

The New-York Historical Society will host author Jean Fagan Yellin as she discusses her book Harriet Jacobs, A Life on Wednesday, October 26th, 6:30 p.m. at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street.

The following press release was issued by the New York Historical Society about a lecture by Pace University Professor Emeritus Jean Fagan Yellin, winner of the 2004 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book “Harriet Jacobs: A Life.”

Contact:
Rubenstein Associates, Inc.
Marisa Wayne (212) 843-9216

JEAN FAGAN YELLIN TO DISCUSS HER BIOGRAPHY OF LITTLE-KNOWN SLAVE NARRATIVE AUTHOR HARRIET JACOBS

Winner of the 2004 Frederick Douglass Book Prize to speak at New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society will host author Jean Fagan Yellin as she discusses her book Harriet Jacobs, A Life on Wednesday, October 26th, 6:30 p.m. at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street.

Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, was also actively involved in reform movements before, during and after the Civil War. However, until the groundbreaking work of Jean Fagan Yellin, little was known about her. Winner of the 2004 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Harriet Jacobs, A Life, recovers the experience of this once-forgotten but remarkable woman who lived 29 years as a slave, seven of them in a cramped hiding place to escape a sexually predatory master.

Author Jean Fagan Yellin, Professor Emerita, Pace University

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO RESERVE TICKETS CALL 212-485-9205.

WHAT: Discussion and book signing with Jean Fagan Yellin, author of Harriet Jacobs, A Life

WHEN: Wednesday, October 26th, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th Street

ADMISSION: Non-Members: $12
Members, Students, Educators, and Seniors: $6

Pace Scholar Wins $100,000 Ford Foundation Grant to Finish Editing Papers by Fugitive Slave

Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897), the fugitive slave who wrote the landmark memoir “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself,” is the only African-American woman held in slavery whose papers are known to exist.

Contact Mary Horgan, Associate Director of Public Information, Pace University 914-923-2798 or (914) 424-3845 mhorgan@pace.edu

PACE UNIVERSITY SCHOLAR JEAN FAGAN YELLIN
WINS $100,000 FORD FOUNDATION GRANT
TO FINISH EDITING PAPERS BY FUGITIVE SLAVE
WHOSE BOOK SHE HELPED MAKE A CLASSIC

Compilation on Harriet Jacobs
is expected to advance teaching and scholarship,
help rescue personal voice of slave women from oblivion.

NEW YORK, NY — January 27, 2004 –Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897), the fugitive slave who wrote the landmark memoir “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself,” is the only African-American woman held in slavery whose papers are known to exist.

Fifteen years ago, against the prevailing judgment, Jean Fagan Yellin, a Pace University professor of English, established that Jacobs’s book indeed was “written by herself,” as its subtitle announces, and not by Lydia Maria Child, a white abolitionist writer whose authorship commentators had long assumed. In 1988, Yellin published an edition of “Incidents” with Harvard University Press and the book soon became a classic, used in thousands of college and high school courses on American history and literature and in ethnic, women’s and American studies.

Now the Ford Foundation has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Yellin and her staff to support completion of a two-volume edition of Harriet Jacobs’s papers, which the University of North Carolina Press has contracted to publish.

The grant comes at a time when Yellin’s scholarship is being recognized in other ways. Now a Distinguished Professor Emerita at Pace, her biography of Jacobs, “Harriet Jacobs: A Life,” has been published this month by Basic Civitas Books. The January/February issue of “Humanities,” the bimonthly publication of the National Endowment for the Humanities, carries an article on the Jacobs papers and PBS will air a documentary featuring Harriet Jacobs in October 2004.

A voice for generations. “Histories cannot be written, nor films produced, nor curricula developed which express the historic pluralism of our national culture until the words and acts of African-American women held in slavery are heard,” Yellin said. “Without the Harriet Jacobs papers, millions of nineteenth-century African-American women would remain without a voice.”

David A. Caputo, the political scientist who is president of Pace, said, “Jean Yellin’s rigorous scholarship has helped change the perceptions of entire generations.”

He added: “Pace’s administrators and supporters, Jean Yellin’s faculty colleagues, and her many students over the years should feel honored to have played their roles in supporting her contributions. Her work has increased our understanding of history and thereby strengthened the basis for increasing opportunity in this country and around the world.”

Yellin was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for “Women and Sisters: the Anti-Slavery Feminists in American Culture” (1990), and is the editor of several definitive editions of classic nineteenth century American texts including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as well as Jacobs’s “Incidents.”

“Incidents” is studied abroad as a major work of American literature, with translations in French, German, Portuguese and Japanese. In the U.S., “Books in Print” currently lists 18 editions of Jacobs’s narrative. Yellin’s 1987 Harvard University Press edition alone has sold more than 200,000 copies.

More information on the Harriet Jacobs Project is at www.harrietjacobspapers.org .

Genesis of the Papers project. Shortly after publishing the Harvard edition of “Incidents,” Yellin discovered a series of letters Jacobs had written from the South during the Civil War and began work on the biography. She soon learned that Jacobs was actively involved in reform movements before, during and after the Civil War, especially abolitionism, feminism, and southern Reconstruction. Both Jacobs’ brother and her daughter were movement activists: he lectured with Frederick Douglass, she with Susan B. Anthony.

The wide range of materials Yellin turned up inspired her to undertake the “Papers” project. In 1995, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers, and more recently the papers project has received additional NEH funding and has been named a “We the People Project.” Other funding has come from Pace University, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the University of North Carolina Press, the UNC Center for the Study of the American South, and the UNC Libraries. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission has endorsed it.

The collection now encompasses approximately 600 items, housed in various archives in the U.S. and England. The new funds will pay for the remaining cataloguing and annotating, scheduled for completion in 2005.

“His”tory Lesson. The staff includes Kate Culkin, associate editor in residence at Pace, and Joseph Thomas, associate dean of Caldwell College, who is advisory editor. Culkin said, “The knowledge of Jacobs’s life and work, which the Harriet Jacobs Papers will dramatically enhance, enriches our understanding of gender, identity, pluralism and social change. It will foster new curriculums that illustrate minority women as academic subjects, students, teachers, citizens and activists.”

According to Yellin, the papers demonstrate that “antislavery discourse was not all about race and slavery, but also about identity and gender; and that feminist discourse was not all about sexuality and gender, but also about race and slavery. They excavate historic grassroots networks for social change, displaying the connections and disjunctions between black and white reformers and between race and gender reformers.”

“This story is central in our history and culture; it is the story of struggle for human fulfillment that we continue to address in our lives today.”

Less hearsay, more scholarship. The availability of the papers promises a constructive change in several academic disciplines. Publication of the papers will empower faculty members across the country, who have been unable to guide students responsibly into research areas that lacked basic primary materials, to encourage the study of nineteenth-century women of color. It also is likely to inspire young scholars to undertake such studies.

Yellin said, “This will encourage students of color at every level to enter a history in which they have been absent except by hearsay.”

Yellin and the project are affiliated with Pace’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, which offers majors in the humanities and has primary responsibility for the general education (core curriculum) of all baccalaureate students at the University. The project is affiliated most closely with the publishing program and with the English department, in which Yellin taught for many years. It has strong ties to the history department and the University’s Pforzheimer Honors College, which have supplied most of the Pace student interns who have worked on the papers. The project also has attracted eager graduate students from other campuses.

Yellin’s work on Jacobs is particularly relevant to Pace and its motto of “opportunitas.” The comprehensive, independent university is committed to opportunity, teaching and learning, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. Pace has eight campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school) and a Hudson Valley Center located at Stewart Airport near Newburgh, N. Y. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School. (www.pace.edu)

Pace University Professor Awarded Funding for Editing the Harriot Jacobs Papers

Pace University Professor Jean Fagan Yellin was awarded $30,000 from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for the Harriet Jacobs Papers Project.

March 11, 2002 Contact: Mary E. Horgan
mhorgan@pace.edu
(914) 923-2798

PACE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AWARDED FUNDING FOR EDITING
THE HARRIET JACOBS PAPERS

NEW YORK — Pace University Professor Jean Fagan Yellin was awarded $30,000 from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for the Harriet Jacobs Papers Project.

The Harriet Jacobs Papers Project will be the first edition of papers of an African American woman. Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) is the author, abolitionist, and reformer who wrote the landmark American slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (Boston 1861, London 1862). The University of North Carolina Press will produce the 2-volume Papers, an edition of approximately 600 documents by and about Jacobs.

“There is no scholarly edition of the papers of any African-American woman,” said Yellin, principal editor and distinguished professor emerita of English at the University’s Dyson College of Arts & Sciences. “Although in the last few years Jacobs has become recognized as a major 19th-century African-American author, very few of her letters and papers have been published.”

The Harriet Jacobs Papers will provide 21st-century scholars and other, more general readers with the unique angle of vision of a 19th-century African-American woman who was a slave and ex-slave. The papers project will offer unprecedented insight into the conception, production, and publication of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by offering the author’s correspondence and public commentary and her brother John’s accounts of many of the events included in his sister’s book.

“The papers will contribute to the ongoing study of how racism and slavery, and the national struggle against them, have shaped our culture and continue to shape our lives,” said Yellin.

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and the performing arts, and by supporting research libraries and other institutions which transmit our cultural heritage.

The Dyson College of Arts & Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts, humanities, and sciences and guides the general education of all Pace University undergraduate students. The College’s teaching philosophy stresses a combination of classroom instruction, technology, practical experience, and community service.