Wiley-Silver Book Prize

The Wiley-Silver Book Prize

The Center for Civil War Research established the Wiley-Silver Prize in Civil War History in 2011. The Center presents the prize to the best first book, thereby recognizing and encouraging new and emerging scholars in the history of the American Civil War. The prize is named for two distinguished former members of the University's History Department faculty, Bell Irvin Wiley and James W. Silver.

Scholars awarded the prize receive an invitation to the University's annual Conference on the Civil War, held in October. At that meeting, the prize and $2000.00 is awarded to the honoree. In addition to press releases, the Center also purchases advertising space in the field's two journals, Civil War History and The Journal of the Civil War Era, as well as The Journal of American History to announce the winning entry.

 
 

Bell Irvin Wiley

 

Bell Irvin Wiley, born in 1906, joined the University of Mississippi’s history department in 1938 and worked along side Silver until departing for military service in 1943.  Wiley served as a First Lieutenant and historical officer in the Army Ground Forces Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Wiley is renowned for his The Life of Johnny Reb (1943) and The Life of Billy Yank (1952), as well as a number of other influential works in Civil War and southern history.  By the time of his death in 1980, Wiley had accumulated more than 50 years of classroom experience and had authored, co-authored and edited 24 books while serving at universities such as the University of Southern Miss, Louisiana State University, and Emory University.

 

James W. Silver

 

Serving as a history professor at the University of Mississippi from 1936 to 1964, James W. Silver was an established and respected figure on campus. Silver, born in 1907, served as chair of the department from 1946 to 1957.  Although Silver is best known for his influential Mississippi: The Closed Society (1964), Silver was also a historian of the Civil War.  He is the author of Confederate Morale and Church Propaganda (1957) and A Life for the Confederacy (1959).  Silver would end his teaching career at Notre Dame.   

 

2014 Wiley-Silver Prize Winner

 

Dr. Kathryn Shively Meier is the 2014 recipient of the Wiley-Silver Prize for her book Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia. Meier's work provides a fresh new perspective on the Shenandoah and Peninsula Campaigns, detailing the unfamiliar and harsh environmental conditions both Union and Confederate troops faced as they attempted to wage war. As soldiers built informal networks of healthcare rooted in their prewar experiences, they likewise had to adjust their ideas of race, class, and masculinity in order to survive amidst arduous conditions. Meier argues that soldiers often relied on self-care rather than the unreliable military medical infrastructure- a decision that challenged army discipline and changed definitions of health care. Dr. Meier received her doctorate from The University of Virginia in 2010 and is currently an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

 

2013 Wiley-Silver Prize Winner

 

Dr. Glenn David Brasher is the 2013 recipient of the Wiley-Silver Prize for his book The Peninsula Campaign & the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans & the Fight for Freedom. Brasher's research is a powerful reevaluation of the Peninsula Campaign and the push for emancipation. The campaign was General George B. McClellan's failed attempt to take Richmond, the Confederate capital. Brasher argues that the participation of enslaved African Americans in the campaign did more to enact emancipation than the Battle of Antietam, as previous historians have asserted. Northerners became increasingly sympathetic to emancipation as a necessity of the war effort after the Peninsula Campaign. The military action also spurred President Abraham Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Brasher successfully demonstrates the importance of the Peninsula Campaign and the participation of the enslaved in the war for their freedom.

 

2012 Wiley-Silver Prize Winner

 

Dr. Barbara Gannon recieved the Wiley-Silver Prize for her book, The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic. Her book explores the role of comradeship in fostering interracial cooperation in the GAR. Their sense of camaraderie, she says, was strong enough to overcome racism and even facilitated the creation of a new, interracial Civil War memory in opposition to the Lost Cause—the “Won Cause.”  Together, black and white veterans came to remember the Civil War as a war not only for the Union, but for emancipation as well. Gannon received her doctorate from Penn State in 2005 and is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Central Florida.

 

 

Directions for Submitting Books for the 2015 Wiley-Silver Prize


The Center for Civil War Research is accepting submissions for the fourth annual Wiley-Silver Prize in Civil War History. The prize will be awarded to the best first book in Civil War history published in 2014. It recognizes exceptional emerging scholars in the history of the American Civil War. The prize is named for two distinguished former members of the University's History Department faculty, Bell Irvin Wiley and James W. Silver.

The recipient of the Wiley-Silver Prize will receive an invitation to speak at the University's annual Conference on the Civil War, held in the fall of 2015. At that meeting, the prize and $2000.00 will be awarded the honoree.  

Eligibility: The Wiley-Silver Prize in Civil War History will be awarded annually to a scholar’s first book or monograph in Civil War history published in the previous year.  For this competition, books published in 2014 are eligible. Books or monographs published by scholarly or popular presses are eligible.  Except in extraordinary circumstances textbooks are not eligible, nor are anthologies or edited works. Results will be announced by July 1, 2015.

To Submit a Book: The Center and each prize committee member must receive one copy of the book by Monday, February 16, 2015.  Entries may be submitted by publishers or authors.  Each entry must be clearly labeled “Wiley-Silver Prize Entry.” If the book carries a copyright date different from the publication date, publishers must enclose a letter explaining the eligibility of the entry.  Entries submitted after close of business on the deadline date will not be considered. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at civilwar@olemiss.edu, or (662) 915-3969

Send submissions to:

Center for Civil War Research 
Department of History 
310 Bishop Hall
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677   

Daniel Sutherland 
Department of History 
Old Main 416 
University of Arkansas 
Fayetteville, AR 72701   

Thavolia Glymph
Department of History
Box 90719
226 Carr Building, 114 Campus Drive
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708

Anne Marshall
History Department
Mississippi State University
P.O. Box H
214 Allan Hall
Mississippi State, MS 39762