David W. Blight

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David W. Blight
Born David William Blight
1949 (age 72–73)
Nationality American
Occupation Professor

David William Blight (born 1949) is a professor of American History at Yale University and Director of the Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition. Previously, Blight was a professor of History at Amherst College, where he taught for 13 years. He has won major historical awards, including the Bancroft Prize and the Frederick Douglass Prize.

Early life and education

Blight grew up in Flint, Michigan (the name Blight is of Cornish origin).[1] After getting his undergraduate degree, Blight taught in a public high school for seven years. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1985 with thesis titled Keeping Faith in Jubilee: Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of the Civil War.


After teaching at Harvard and North Central College, he taught at Amherst College from 1990 to 2003. In 2001 he published Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. It received numerous major historical awards, as it

"presented a new way of understanding the nation's collective response to the war, arguing that, in the interest of reunification, the country ignored the racist underpinnings of the war, leaving a legacy of racial conflict."[2]

It has been a seminal work in the enlarging field of memory studies.

After being hired by Yale in 2003 and teaching as a full professor, in 2006 Blight was selected to direct the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. His primary focus is on the American Civil War and its aftermath.

Blight is chiefly concerned with studying the ways American society grappled with the war in its aftermath. His work, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (2007), provides context for newly discovered first-person accounts by two men who escaped during the Civil War and emancipated themselves.

He also lectures for One Day University. In Spring 2008, Blight recorded a 27-lecture course, The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877 for Open Yale Courses, available online.




  1. "Cornish Family Names"
  2. "David W. Blight", History Dept., Yale University, 2007, accessed 27 April 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Race and Reunion and prizes, Harvard University Press, accessed 27 April 2012
  4. "David W. Blight Receives 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize", The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University, accessed 27 April 2012

External links