The $1,000 prize recognizes “Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier” as “the most outstanding monograph or edited volume published in western women’s, gender and sexuality history” by the organization, which was founded in 1983.
“It feels wonderful to be recognized for a work that I hold so near and dear to my heart,” Sachs said. “Alongside my work as a historian, I am particularly humbled by the positive response to my work as a writer, for I always strive to write narratives that are engaging and accessible to academics and non-academics alike.”
Comments from the judges included statements such as “beautifully written and researched, and a tremendously sophisticated analysis that changes the way we think about the history of the early American frontier region.” Another judge called her writing engaging and her use of sources innovative, adding, “This book offers fresh insights into frontier masculinity and the construction of households amidst tenuous economic circumstances.”
The award will be presented at a breakfast event in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Sachs’ choice of the era and the region for her research was a journey on a meandering path. “I went to grad school planning to study women and migration into the Deep South during the 19th century,” she said in an interview about the book. “But when I got to Wisconsin, everybody was talking about The Middle Ground and my interest in the West began to shift to an earlier time period. As I started poking around, it seemed like all roads led to Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley. The 18th-century backcountry was having a historiographic ‘moment,’ but for the most part, it was a scholarship of men – of land speculators, lawyers, hunters, soldiers and statesmen. The experiences of women in early national expansion were largely invisible.”
The office of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin notified Sachs recently that she had been bestowed the title of “Kentucky Colonel” in appreciation of her work, which she found amusing. “The colonel thing is kind of hysterical,” Sachs said. “Many people receive such a recognition.” In fact, last May when the governor’s office was re-evaluating the criteria on which the title is given, they estimated that more than 85,000 had been awarded. “I believe some folks at the Kentucky Historical Society nominated me,” Sachs said.
“Home Rule” was published by Yale University Press in October, 2015.