Tiya Miles Receives 2022 Lawrence W. Levine Award and 2022 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians

April 11, 2022
Picture of Tiya Miles

April 6, 2022 
Contact: Elisabeth Marsh
Office: 812.855.9864 | E-mail: emarsh@oah.org

Tiya Alicia Miles, Harvard University, Receives 2022 Lawrence W. Levine Award and 2022 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians

BLOOMINGTON, IN—The Organization of American Historians (OAH) today announced that Tiya Alicia Miles, Harvard University, is the recipient of the OAH’s 2022 Lawrence W. Levine Award and 2022 Darlene Clark Hine Award. The Lawrence W. Levine Award is given annually for the best book in American cultural history. The Darlene Clark Hine Award is given annually for the best book in African American women’s and gender history. The Awards were announced during the OAH’s 2022 Conference on American History.

Miles’s book, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House), is a tour de force, setting a new bar for the craft of writing cultural history.

In telling the story of one specific textile, a prosaic cotton sack that is made remarkable by both its narrative embroidery and its sheer survival, Tiya Alicia Miles brilliantly fulfills the promise of material culture studies: to illuminate the histories of people whose lived experiences are otherwise absent from the written record. As she constructs a new archive of objects, art, association, and restrained imagination, Miles places the bodily and emotional experience of Black families, and especially Black women, at the center of our understanding of slavery and its continuing repercussions. This book honors Lawrence Levine’s legacy by revealing the importance of cultural objects, quite literally, from the ground up: the cotton that fueled plantation slavery is transformed through the skill and creativity of specific Black women into fabric that becomes, first, a family heirloom and, in recent years, an object of public history, preserved and displayed in museums. Miles’s skill and creativity as a historian are boundless; she will bring new audiences to the field of cultural history through her accessible, generous, and utterly compelling prose.

The Darlene Clark Hine Award Committee found All That She Carried to be a brilliant and original monograph among many wonderful submissions. Tiya Alicia Miles weaves together an intricate and beautifully written story that tells a hard history about Black women and slavery using a rare and precious artifact. More than a recovery narrative, this work is a testament to the power of intergenerational love and survival in slavery and freedom. Her use of a variety of sources and her ability to tell an environmental as well as a geographic history sets her book apart. She has advanced the field of African American women’s and gender history by giving us a model rooted in creativity for how to bear witness to the experiences of people left out of archives.

For the full list of OAH 2022 award and prize recipients, please visit the OAH website.