D’Emilio wins OAH’s major award

Several hundred historians rose in unison on the night of Saturday, April 13, vigorously applauding the announcement that the Organization of American Historians (OAH) had awarded its 2013 Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award to UIC's very own John D’Emilio.

The award goes to “an individual whose contributions have significantly enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history,” and the list of past winners is a veritable who’s who of the profession: C. Vann Woodward, John Hope Franklin, Gerda Lerner, Gary Nash, Joyce Appleby, Kenneth Stampp, Merle Curti, Edmund S. Morgan, and more.  John D’Emilio now joins that list.

The announcement, made by incoming OAH president Allan Kraut, lauded D’Emilio for his more than half-dozen books, many of them award-winners populating the list of graduate student reading lists; his essays, both academic and personal; and his tireless service as a professional citizen who founded organizations on both gay and lesbian history and LGBT civil rights.  Underscoring John’s “pioneering scholarship in the field of gay and lesbian studies,” Kraut specifically emphasized how John’s book, Intimate Matters (co-authored with Estelle Friedman), was both cited and quoted in the majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s pivotal Lawrence v. Texas case, the historic decision that declared state sodomy statutes unconstitutional.

Kraut concluded his announcement: “The OAH honors John D’Emilio for his distinguished service as a member of the profession whose work in many arenas has helped to reshape the field of American history, forge ties between the worlds of scholarship and public life, and broaden our intellectual horizons.  In countless ways, John D’Emilio has contributed to a more open and inclusive scholarly community and more just and fair society.”

As John rose to accept the award, the entire house rose with him, offering sustained applause and numerous hoots of approval.  In accepting the award, John reminded young historians that things can and do change, reflecting on the fact that when he began his career, gay and lesbian history was not even counted as a viable field worthy of study.

Thanks in no small part to John’s dynamic work, this is now most certainly not the case.

Congratulations John!  The UIC Department of History is pleased to count you as one of its most distinguished members.