Professor of history James Merrell was one of three American historians to receive the prestigious Bancroft Prize, an annual award established at Columbia University in 1948 by historian Frederic Bancroft.  Professor Merrell was awarded the prize for Into the Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (1999), a groundbreaking study of 17th century negotiators in Pennsylvania—diverse colonists and Native Americans—of “the Long Peace” among the several antagonists.  The Bancroft Prize for 1990 was awarded to his earlier book, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (1989) along with both the annual Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the annual Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians.

One of only five historians to win two Bancroft Prizes, Professor Merrell told The Miscellany News, “Many better historians than I have not won this prize,” adding, “It was humbling to win the first time.  [Winning it] twice makes me even more humble.”  Of her colleague’s achievement, Professor of History Miriam Cohen noted, “He teaches American [history], and it is his deep-seated commitment that Native American history be intertwined with the history of colonial America.”