The William & Mary Quarterly Prize Lecture

The William and Mary Quarterly Prize Lecture series features authors of award-winning articles published in the William and Mary Quarterly (WMQ). These lectures are supported by a bequest from the late Michael (Mike) McGiffert who served as editor of the WMQ at the Omohundro Institute from 1972–1997 and also taught at William & Mary. The 2019 lecture will be announced in spring 2019.


Join us on November 11, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. in Blow Hall 201* on the campus of William & Mary, as we welcome historian Alex Byrd. The Douglass Adair prize-winning author of “Eboe, Country, Nation, and Gustavus Vassa’s ‘Interesting Narrative’” (WMQ Vol. 63, No. 1, Jan. 2006), Professor Byrd is now working on 20th and 21st American history. Hear how his earlier work informs his present research in this fascinating talk that spans centuries. A reception will follow his talk.

*Location may change. Please watch this site for details.



On Monday, October 22, 2018, we welcomed OI author and Richard L. Morton prizewinner Douglas Winiarski (University of Richmond). He presented “Death by Pancakes and Other Incidents in the History of New Light Evangelicalism,” an illustrated lecture which explored the varied ways in which the “people called New Lights”—progenitors of today’s evangelical Protestants—resolved perplexing mind-body problems associated with their transformative conversion experiences. Drawing upon a wide range of examples from maritime Canada to the Carolinas and from New England to the trans-Appalachian frontier, Professor Winiarski demonstrated how the religious revivals of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries fueled controversies over marriage, the family, sexuality, and the body.

Douglas Winiarski is professor of Religious studies and American studies at the University of Richmond. His first book, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England, published in 2017 by the Omohundro Institute with partner the University of North Carolina Press, was awarded the 2018 Bancroft Prize.


On Monday, October 23, 2017, we welcomed Lester J. Cappon Award winner Juliana Barr (Duke University). Professor Barr delivered “Mapping Indian Sovereignty in the Cartography of Colonial America.” She explored the cartography of colonial North America to show how we can better understand the power American Indians exerted in their relations with Europeans and how European maps offer proof of that Indian power. By looking at maps made by and for Europeans “on the ground” in the Americas, rather than maps made for rulers and politicians in London, Paris, Seville, and later Washington DC, Professor Barr shows clear European documentation of sovereign Indian power. In turn, she revealed “colonial relations” not as cultural encounters between individuals but as imperial relations between European and Native nations.

Professor Barr received her M.A. and Ph.D. (1999) in American women’s history from the University of Wisconsin Madison and her B.A. (1988) from the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the Duke University Department of History in 2015 after teaching at Rutgers University and the University of Florida. She specializes in the history of early America, the Spanish Borderlands, American Indians, and women and gender. Her book, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2007. She is currently at work on a new book, “La Dama Azul (The Lady in Blue): A Southwestern Origin Story for Early America.”


On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, the first lecture featured Lester J. Cappon Award winner Sarah Barringer (Sally) Gordon with her talk titled “The First Wall of Separation between Church and State: Slavery and Disestablishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Virginia.”

Professor Gordon is the Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the legal history of religion in America, especially the history of constitutional protections of religious liberty and separation of church and state. Her first book, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill, 2002), was followed by The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America (Cambridge, MA, 2010). She is currently at work on a study of separation of church and state from independence through Reconstruction, titled “Freedom’s Holy Light: Disestablishment in America, 1776–1876.” Her talk at the OI was drawn from that project, and designed to revisit and revise long-accepted narratives of how separation of church and state became politically popular in the 1780s.

For more information on the WMQ Prize Lecture, contact Martha Howard at or 757-221-1115.