Edward L. Ayers is the President of the University of Richmond. He was educated at the University of Tennessee and Yale University, where he received his Ph.D. in American Studies. Previously Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he began teaching in 1980, Ayers was named National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Support of Education in 2003. His book, IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES: WAR IN THE HEART OF AMERICA, 1859-1863 (2003), won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished work on the history of the United States. THE PROMISE OF THE NEW SOUTH: LIFE AFTER RECONSTRUCTION (1992) won prizes for the best book on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South. It was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He is the co-editor of THE OXFORD BOOK OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH (1997) and ALL OVER THE MAP: RETHINKING AMERICAN REGIONS (1996). The World Wide Web version of "The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War" was recognized by the American Historical Association as the best aid to the teaching of history. His latest book is WHAT CAUSED THE CIVIL WAR? REFLECTIONS ON THE SOUTH AND SOUTHERN HISTORY (2005).
He is also an associate editor of the American National Biography. Oshinsky writes about the brutality of penitentiary life in his book, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice. He earned a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an appointment as Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin for his work on the penitentiary project. Oshinsky also received the 17th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for his novel.
Jean R. Soderlund is Professor of History and Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs at Lehigh University. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University and was a post-doctoral fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her book, QUAKERS AND SLAVERY: A DIVIDED SPIRIT, won the Alfred E. Driscoll Publication Prize of the New Jersey Historical Commission. Soderlund was an editor of three volumes of the PAPERS OF WILLIAM PENN (1981-1983) and co-authored FREEDOM BY DEGREES: EMANCIPATION IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ITS AFTERMATH (1991). She has written articles and chapters in books on the history of women, African Americans, Native Americans, Quakers, and the development of abolition in the British North American colonies and early United States. She is currently working on a study of the Lenape people within colonial New Jersey society. She is a council member of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and she served as a committee chair for the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians.