The Indians’ New World Revisited


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

James H. Merrell will recount how he found his way into, or, as he puts it, “more accurately, stumbled upon,” The Indians’ New World and how this Bancroft Prize-winning book and the field have fared in the decades since the work appeared. Professor Merrell will take advantage of hindsight to “talk about what I got wrong while writing that work, the pitfalls I faced and the pratfalls I took, as well as what I, perhaps, managed to get right.” He’ll also offer some thoughts on what has changed over the past generation in our view of Native peoples yesterday and today—and what has not.


Born and raised in Minnesota, James Merrell is the Lucy Maynard Salmon Professor of History at Vassar College. He studied at Lawrence University and Oxford before receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He has received fellowships from, among others, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Merrell’s scholarly interests are in early American history, particularly the Native experience in colonial times. His first book, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (1989) won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians as well as the Bancroft Prize. His second book, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (1999), was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and won his second Bancroft Prize, making him one of only a handful of historians to win that prestigious award twice. He was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society in 2008.