JACQUELINE JONES, who holds the Harry S. Truman professorship of American Civilization at Brandeis University, is one of the nation's leading social historians. Her teaching and research encompasses the history of African-Americans, labor, women, the family, and the history of the American South.
The recipient of many awards and academic distinctions, Jones has authored six major scholarly books as well as an autobiographical account of her youth in Delaware. Her first book, Soldiers of Light and Love was described by James M. McPherson as "the fullest and richest portrait we have of the 'Yankee Schoolmarms' who went south to teach blacks after the Civil War. . ." Jones' widely acclaimed study Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women and Work from Slavery to the Present won the 1986 Bancroft Prize from Columbia University and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. An equally ambitious work, The Dispossessed: America's Underclasses From the Civil War to the Present, appeared in 1992 and garnered much praise for its broad scope and contemporary relevance. Described by one reviewer as "a harrowing tour from Southern plantations to Appalachian hollows to big city housing projects," the book drew plaudits from historian Eric Foner for exposing poverty as a "historical and political problem" rather than as a product of personal behavior or deviant culture.
Following the publication of another major book American Work: Four Centuries of Black and White Labor (W. W. Norton, 1998) Jones received a MacArthur Fellowship, one of the most highly coveted distinctions in American creative and intellectual life.
Labeled by the popular media as "genius grants," the MacArthur awards are given to "people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations."
Professor Jones is currently at work on a major project tentatively entitled "Saving Savannah," that will explore the transition from slavery to freedom along Georgia's coast.