Elizabeth D. Leonard, the John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History, has won the Thomas D. Clark Medallion Award for her most recent book, Slaves, Slaveholders, and a Kentucky Community’s Struggle toward Freedom, published by the University Press of Kentucky (UPK)

“Much of what we know about Kentucky history and culture rests on works published by UPK, and Professor Leonard’s book adds greatly to this tradition,” said Stan Macdonald, board president of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the University Press of Kentucky. “After reviewing several top UPK books published in 2019, a committee of the foundation chose Dr. Leonard’s book because of its high standards for research and writing exemplified by the award’s namesake, the late, distinguished historian Thomas D. Clark.” The Clark Foundation gives this annual award to a University Press of Kentucky publication that accentuates Kentucky’s history and culture. 

“I am grateful to be recognized once again for the quality of my scholarship and to have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to my field,” Leonard said. “The book was a particularly challenging one to write, given the disparity in the types of sources available for the different groups of people involved—simply put: lots of sources for Whites, scant sources for Blacks. 

“But the story means so much to me, having lived in ‘Holt World’ as a historian for such a long time and having come to know these historical individuals almost as distant friends. I particularly value the recognition the award represents of my efforts to bring the stories of Sandy Holt and the other brave Black men, who fought for freedom in the 118th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, to light, and to show that it is possible, with persistence, to do so.” 

Leonard will give a lecture about her book Sept. 17 at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Ky. 

To read more about Leonard’s book, visit Colby Magazine