2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize recipients

Gettysburg College and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History have announced that that Frances M. Clarke and Rebecca Jo Plant, co-authors of “Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in the Civil War Era” (Oxford University Press), are the recipients of the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize is awarded annually for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War soldier, or the American Civil War era, one that also enhances the general public’s understanding of the Civil War era. The award was established in 1990 by Lewis E. Lehrman and the late Richard Gilder, in partnership with Gettysburg College and Dr. Gabor Boritt, Director Emeritus of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

An image of a book titled 'Of Age'

James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, said, “Of Age, the winner of the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is not only breakthrough history, it is a compelling and moving read, full of the stories of children, some as young as 11 or 12, serving in the Civil War, and the struggles of parents to reclaim or liberate their underage sons from armies into which they had enlisted. Every reader will find it gripping, as it opens an entirely new window into the human dimensions of the Civil War.”

Basker is one of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize board members who selected this year’s winners. In addition to Lewis E. Lehrman, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and co-creator of the Gilder Lehrman Collection with the late Richard Gilder, other board members include Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Trustees Robert C. Daum, Thomas D. Lehrman, Robert H. Niehaus, and Linda Pace, and Gettysburg College Trustee Emeriti Larry D. Walker ’76.

“Of Age adds unexpected depth to our understanding of the tragedy that was the Civil War. This fine book gives the reader a sobering insight into the significance of boy soldiers making up such a large portion of the Union and Confederate armies,” said Walker.

Frances M. Clarke is an associate professor of history at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her first book, “War Stories: Suffering and Sacrifice in the Civil War North” (University of Chicago Press, 2011) jointly won the Australian Historical Association’s biennial W.K. Hancock Prize for the best first book in any field of history. After co-editing “Remembering the Revolution: Memory, History, and Nation Making from Independence to the Civil War” (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013) with Michael A. McDonnell, Clare Corbould, and W. Fitzhugh Brundage, she began collaborating with Rebecca Jo Plant, first on racial politics and war memory in 1930s America, and then on debates over underage enlistment after the American Revolution. Their first article on the latter project, published in “Law and History Review,” won the Coordinating Council for Women in History’s Carol Gold Best Article Award. Clarke is currently collaborating with other scholars on a project that tracks the aftermath of war from the Napoleonic era through World War II.

The bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s life-sized bust
The bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s life-sized bust, Lincoln the Man, will be awarded to the Lincoln Prize recipients.

Rebecca Jo Plant is a professor of history and an Academic Senate Distinguished Teacher at the University of California, San Diego, where she has taught since 2002. Before turning to the Civil War, she published “Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America” (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and co-edited “Maternalism Reconsidered: Motherhood, Welfare, and Social Policies in the Twentieth Century” (Berghahn Books, 2012). Together with Frances M. Clarke, she also published “‘The Crowning Insult’: Federal Segregation and the Gold Star Mother and Widow Pilgrimages of the Early 1930s,” which appeared in the Journal of American History and won the 2015 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Prize for best article in the field of the history of women, gender, or sexuality.

Plant has held fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Australian Research Council. She is past president of the Western Association of Women Historians and current editor of the journal and database Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600–2000.

The two laureates will be recognized during an award ceremony to be held at the Harvard Club in New York City on April 4. The award they will share includes a $50,000 prize and bronze replicas of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s life-sized bust, Lincoln the Man.

“Of Age” was one of five books recommended to the board as finalists by a three-person jury

The four other finalists that the jury selected from 83 book submissions include:

  • Frank J. Cirillo, “The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union” (LSU Press);
  • John C. Rodrigue, “Freedom’s Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley” (Cambridge University Press);
  • Yael A. Sternhell, “War on Record: The Archive and the Afterlife of the Civil War” (Yale University Press); and
  • Ronald C. White, “On Great Fields: The Life and Unlikely Heroism of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain” (Random House).

In addition to partnering on the Lincoln Prize, Gettysburg College and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History recently teamed up to create an online master’s program. The Gettysburg College-Gilder Lehrman MA in American History is a 30-credit program open to K-12 educators, district supervisors, librarians, museum professionals, and National Park Service employees who are affiliated with the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Gettysburg College celebrated its first master’s degree graduates from the program last July.

Learn more about Gettysburg College’s partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and view past winners of the Lincoln Prize.