Annette Gordon-Reed to give 15th Press Distinguished Lecture at Centre College

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Centre College

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed will give the 15th Press Distinguished Lecture at Centre College on Thursday, Feb. 13. It begins at 7 p.m. in Weisiger Theater and is free and open to the public.

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Her topic is “Talking About the Past.”

As she has pointed out, we ask different questions today than scholars did in the past, and thus we often get different answers.

Gordon-Reed joined Harvard University in 2010 with joint appointments in history and law. Currently, she is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and a professor of history at Harvard University.

Her first book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997), used meticulously compiled evidence to assert that Thomas Jefferson had had a longstanding relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, and was the likely father of her six children. Twenty-one years after her groundbreaking book was published, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns Monticello, publicly acknowledged her argument when it restored a room at Monticello where Hemings likely lived.

Gordon-Reed’s 2008 book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, won both a National Book Award for nonfiction and a Pulitzer Prize in history. She has won a total of 16 book prizes, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship (the “Genius Grant”), and the National Humanities Medal.

A native of Texas, Gordon-Reed became interested in Thomas Jefferson as a student in elementary school. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1981 and Harvard Law School in 1984, where she was a member of the Harvard Law Review.

The Press lectureship supports distinguished speakers who have improved our nation’s civic and cultural life. Lexington philanthropist Lucille Caudill Little made a gift to endow the lecture series that honors Kentucky civic leaders O. Leonard and Lillian H. Press.