by Web on March 17, 2017
Dr. Robert S. McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, received the 2017 B.L.C. Wailes Award for national distinction in the field of history that was presented during the Mississippi Historical Society annual meeting in Gulfport in March.
The Wailes Award is named for B.L.C. Wailes, the founder and first president of the Mississippi Historical Society. It is presented occasionally to "a Mississippian who has achieved national distinction in the field of history."
McElvaine said he was honored to receive the award.
“When I was called some time ago and told I would receive this award, it was completely out of the blue,” he said. “I was totally surprised—and, of course, pleased. It is the highest award that the Mississippi Historical Society gives, and they give it only when they believe there is someone who merits it. I was especially impressed when I saw some of the distinguished historians who have received the award in the past. I don't know that I deserve to be in their company, but I am pleased to be there.”
The late David Donald, a 1941 Millsaps graduate known for his 1995 biography of Abraham Lincoln, received the award, as did the late Shelby Foote, the late Winthrop Jordan, and Bill Ferris.
McElvaine, the Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters, is the author of ten books, including Down and Out in the Great Depression, a New York Times bestseller, and Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. McElvaine has also written Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an exhaustive take on the life of the thirty-second president of the United States, and Mario Cuomo: A Biography.
McElvaine, a recipient of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, has twice received the Distinguished Professor Award at Millsaps.