Author, historian to address grads
Jacqueline Jones, AS '70, winner of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation award (the so-called "genius award"), award-winning author and Truman Professor of American Civilization and chairperson of the history department at Brandeis University, will speak at UD's Winter Commencement.
Winter Commencement, which traditionally features a distinguished UD graduate as speaker, recognizes students who complete their degree requirements in August and December. The ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center.
An American social historian, Jones has written extensively on the history of labor, focusing on African Americans, women and the South. Her books include Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work and the Family from Slavery to the Present, which won the Bancroft Prize for American History and was a finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in history, as well as The Dispossessed: America's Underclasses from the Civil War to the Present, American Work: Four Centuries of Black and White Labor and A Social History of the Laboring Classes from Colonial Times to the Present.
Most recently, Jones has written Creek Walking: Growing Up in Delaware in the 1950s, published by the University of Delaware Press. In it, she describes her childhood in Christiana, Del., during that era from both personal and social history points of view.
"Creek walking" refers to one of Jones' favorite childhood pastimesgoing under the bridge over the Christina River (or creek as it was commonly known) on her way home from school to see what treasures she could discover.
Recently revisiting her old elementary schoolnow named after her father, Albert H. Jones, a longtime president of the state Board of Education and ex-officio member of UD's Board of Trusteesshe talked to a group of fourth graders. When one little boy said what he really liked to do was walk by the creek to see what stuff he could find, Jones wrote, "I felt truly at home again, in the company of a soulmate some 40 years my junior."
In her book, she also writes about her experiences at UD and how a course in African-American history was pivotal in her life. She writes, "This single class opened up a whole new world for me. It encouraged me to think more broadly about history and to challenge conventional definitions of work, achievement, progress."
Under the guidance of John Munroe, H. Rodney Sharp Professor Emeritus of History, Jones wrote her senior honors thesis at UD on Quaker schools for black students during the Civil War in Delaware. She went on to earn her master's and doctoral degrees in American history from the University of Wisconsin. She joined the faculty at Wellesley College and then served as Clare Boothe Luce Visiting Professor of History at Brown University from 1988-90 before joining the Brandeis faculty.
She is married to Jeffrey Abramson, who holds the Louis Stulberg Chair in Law and Politics at Brandeis, and they have two daughters.