Historian Jeff Bolster Named 2015 Lindberg Award Winner

Jeff Bolster

Dean Kenneth Fuld is delighted to announce that W. Jeffrey Bolster, Professor of History, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Lindberg Award, given annually to the outstanding teacher-scholar in the College of Liberal Arts.

Professor Bolster earned his undergraduate degree at Trinity College (Hartford), his M.A. from Brown, and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. He was appointed to the UNH faculty in 1991. His research encompasses maritime history, African-American history, environmental history, and Atlantic history. He not only reads and writes about oceans, but also sails them. He spent a decade as master and mate of sailing school-ships and research vessels in the Atlantic, and he’s currently licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as both master and mate of a variety of sailing vessels.

Professor Bolster has written four books on maritime history that have garnered some of the most prestigious awards the field has to offer. His most recent book, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Harvard UP, 2012), won the 2013 Bancroft Prize, the North American Society for Oceanic History’s John Lyman Book Award for the best book in U.S. Maritime History, the American Historical Association’s 2013 Albert J. Beveridge Prize, and the American Historical Association’s 2013 James Rawley Prize in Atlantic History. His 1997 book, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Harvard UP), won The New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, the Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, and the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Best Book in History.

Recognition of Professor Bolster’s work extends to the popular press. The Mortal Sea was reviewed by major national and international outlets, and, just last month, Professor Bolster was commissioned by The New York Times to write a related editorial. He’s served as public intellectual in film and television, appearing on PBS’s Columbus and the Age of Discovery, BBC’s Horizon, NBC’s Revenge of the Whale, and Discovery Channel’s Slave Ship, as well as twice providing coverage of the Tall Ships in Boston event for New England Cable Network. Black Jacks sold briskly in commercial bookstores and had a major impact on a former Virginia prison inmate who credits the book with turning his life around—the subject of both a Washington Post article and an NEH short film. Professor and Chair of History Eliga Gould notes, “Most historians can only dream of having that kind of impact on readers.”

His UNH students register the positive impact Professor Bolster makes in the classroom. Many doctoral students he mentored have gone on to build highly successful careers in history. One notes that Professor Bolster offered him extraordinary opportunities during which he made some of his most important professional connections and produced some of his best publications: “[Professor Bolster] consistently created situations where I could work on my own scholarship to produce the best results.” Undergraduate students, too, have high praise for Professor Bolster, who teaches a number of 400-level surveys as well as advanced courses in maritime and environmental history. A physics major in a Discovery course said, “I was encouraged to do good work not only for a grade, but to hear his feedback . . . Professor Bolster always displayed a personal interest in the progress of each student.”

Professor Bolster has demonstrated that he possesses the highest qualities of scholarship and teaching and is most deserving of the Lindberg Award.

The annual Gary Lindberg Award was established by the College of Liberal Arts in 1986 in memory of Professor Gary Lindberg of the Department of English. Professor Lindberg was an exceptional scholar and outstanding teacher whose dedication and service to the University of New Hampshire as well as the wider community exemplified the highest academic standards and ideals. In memory of Professor Lindberg and as a means of publicly supporting superior faculty accomplishment, the College of Liberal Arts annually recognizes one truly outstanding scholar and teacher within the College.

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