For immediate release July 6, 2021

The Phi Beta Kappa Society Presents Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities to Annette Gordon-Reed 

WASHINGTON, DC, July 6, 2021 — The Phi Beta Kappa Society has named Annette Gordon-Reed the recipient of The Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities. The Society will present the award to Gordon-Reed on August 3 at the 46th Triennial Council of the Society.   

The Award, presented once every three years, recognizes individuals for their significant contributions in the field of the humanities. It includes a $10,000 prize and a medal named for Mr. and Mrs. William B. Jaffe, whose gift enabled the creation of the award in 1970. Mr. Jaffe was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Union College.  

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard. Gordon-Reed has won sixteen book prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 and the National Book Award in 2008, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2008). In addition to articles and reviews, her other works include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (UVA Press, 1997), Vernon Can Read! A Memoir, a collaboration with Vernon Jordan (PublicAffairs, 2001), Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History (Oxford University Press, 2002), a volume of essays that she edited, Andrew Johnson (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010) and, with Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016). Her most recent book is a memoir/history of Texas, On Juneteenth (Liveright Publishing, 2021). 

Gordon-Reed served as was the Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at the University of Oxford (Queens College) 2014-2015. Between 2010 and 2015, she was the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.  She was the 2018-2019 President of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. She is the current President of the Ames Foundation.  A selected list of her honors includes a fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, a Guggenheim Fellowship in the humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award, the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, the George Washington Book Prize, and the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Prize. Gordon-Reed served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College from 2010 to 2018.  She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and was a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2019, she was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society. 

Gordon-Reed will accept the award and take part in a virtual conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen on August 3 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Registration is free at


About The Phi Beta Kappa Society

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded on Dec. 5, 1776, is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 290 colleges and universities in the United States, nearly 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 42 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 150 Nobel Laureates. The mission of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence.