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Photo: Annette Hornischer

James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History, University of Chicago

Citigroup Fellow - Class of Fall 2008

Currently the James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of American and African American History at the University of Chicago, Thomas Holt has a longstanding professional interest in comparing the experiences of people in the African diaspora, particularly those in the Caribbean and the United States. His study of Jamaica’s economy, politics, and society after slavery, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1992; in 1995, it was awarded the Elsa Goveia Prize by the Association of Caribbean Historians. In 1978, the Southern Historical Association awarded the Charles S. Sydnor Prize to Holt’s first book, which dealt with a comparable period in the American South after emancipation, Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, published by the University of Illinois Press. Holt’s Nathan I. Huggins Lectures, The Problem of Race in the 21st Century, were published by Harvard University Press in 2000. His book Children of Fire: A History of African Americans, published by Hill and Wang in 2010, is a synthesis of African American history viewed from an international perspective. He is co-author, with Rebecca J. Scott and Frederick Cooper, of Beyond Slavery: Explorations of Race, Labor, and Citizenship in Post-Emancipation Societies, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2000, and Societies After Slavery: A Selected Annotated Bibliography of Printed Sources in the British West Indies, British Colonial Africa, South Africa, Cuba, and Brazil, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2002. With Elsa Barkley Brown he has edited a two-volume collection of essays and documents on African American history, entitled Major Problems in African American History, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000.


Holt was made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow in 1990 and he was elected president of the American Historical Association for 1994-95. In 2003, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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