Professor David W. Blight

Faculty of Social Sciences

Sterling Professor of History, Yale University

SPERi - David W. Blight
Profile picture of SPERi - David W. Blight

David W. Blight  is a teacher, scholar and award-winning public historian.  He is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

Professor Blight’s most recent book, a biography of Frederick Douglass, entitled, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, won nine book awards, including the highly prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

As director of the Gilder Lehrman Center, David organizes conferences, working groups, lectures, the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, and many public outreach programs regarding the history of slavery and its abolition. He previously taught at Amherst College for thirteen years. In 2013-14 he was the William Pitt Professor of American History at Cambridge University. David works in many capacities in the world of public history, including on boards of museums and historical societies, and as an advisor to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum team of curators. In 2012, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His books include annotated editions, with introductory essay, of Frederick Douglass’s second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom (2013), Robert Penn Warren’s Who Speaks for the Negro, (2014), American OracleThe Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2011) and A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including their Narratives of Emancipation, (2007). David is also the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001), which received eight book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize as well as four awards from the Organization of American Historians, including the Merle Curti prizes for both intellectual and social history.  

David has written many academic and public articles on abolitionism, American historical memory, and African American intellectual and cultural history. He lectures widely in the US and around the world on the Civil War and Reconstruction, race relations, Douglass, Du Bois, and problems in public history and American historical memory. He was elected as a member of the Society of American Historians in 2002, and served as the Society’s President in 2013-14.  

Further information about David and his research can be found here