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History Prof. John Dittmer Receives Bancroft Prize

April 5, 1995

john dittmer office012.jpgApril 5, 1995, Greencastle, Ind. — John Dittmer, professor of history at DePauw University, will be honored tonight by Columbia University with the Bancroft Prize in American History. The professor is being recognized for his book, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.

"I'm particularly delighted," Dittmer told the Banner-Graphic this morning from his New York City hotel room. "It's the major award our profession offers in the field of American history."

Local People chronicles the struggle to obtain civil rights for black citizens in racially repressive Mississippi, beginning with efforts to secure voting rights in 1946 through the seating of an integrated Mississippi delegation at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The events of the tumultuous 1960s -- including the freedom rides, the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the killings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman -- are told in detail, often through oral John Dittmer Local People.jpghistory accounts.

The 55-year-old Dittmer received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Indiana University. Before coming to DePauw in 1985, he taught at IU, Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dittmer's book also received the McLemore Prize and Lillian Smith Book Award, and the New York Times named Local People one of the "notable books of 1994" in the history category.

Learn more in this previous story.

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