Tiya Miles is the Winner of the 2022 Cundill History Prize

Historians in the News
tags: awards, Cundill Prize

Tiya Miles has been announced the winner of the 2022 Cundill History Prize for All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House).


In a unanimous decision, the 2022 jurors decided to award the Harvard Professor for her ‘superbly written’ story of an enslaved mother and her daughter, which traces the lives of three generations of Black women through one object: a cotton sack. Facing a scarcity of archival sources on these women’s lives, Miles turns to material culture, art, and the environment to piece together a singular history of slavery that has ‘the narrative propulsion of a novel.’


Dr. Miles is the Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute, and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.


Miles was also awarded the $75,000 prize, administered by McGill University. This award follows Miles's winning of the National Book Award for nonfiction and the American Historical Association's Joan Kelly Memorial Prize for a work of women's history or feminist theory. 


In the words of jury chair J.R. McNeill (Georgetown University), 


All That She Carried is the winner, in a field of superb books, because of its clear and moving prose, its imaginative research, and the way the author illuminates the human condition through a family story. The world of enslaved women in the antebellum South is, by the standards of U.S. history, extremely poorly documented, but Miles has risen to that challenge in ways that show the best of the historian’s craft. For me, the vividness and immediacy of the writing is the strongest suit of this powerful book.


Juror Martha S. Jones (Johns Hopkins University) concurs, writing: 


All That She Carried is a history that reminds us about what makes us human. The book brings determined research and eloquent compassion to the story of an enslaved mother and her daughter just as they are doomed to be separated, and then discovers how one mother’s love survived across time and space in the form of a simple cotton sack. We learn how the past still shapes our present and how we might use its hard won lessons to face the hardship of our own times.


Two finalists are also named: Ada Ferrer, the Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, for Cuba, and Vladislav M. Zubok, 

Professor of international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science, for Collapse.


The Cundill History Prize is the largest purse for a book of non-fiction in English. The prize is awarded to a work of outstanding history writing and is open to books from anywhere in the world, regardless of the author’s nationality, as well as works translated into English.


For more information about the winner, the finalists, and the jury, please visit the Cundill Prize's homepage



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