Edward Ayers has written and edited twelve books, including In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Beveridge Prize; and The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His new book is The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

Ayers has been named National Professor of the Year, received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and been elected President of the Organization of American Historians. 

Ed is President Emeritus and Professor of Humanities at the University of Richmond. He was formerly professor and Dean of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia.

Ed received a B.A. in American Studies, summa cum laude, from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He received a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1980. 

Awards for Scholarship

  • Avery O. Craven Award, given by the Organization of American Historians, for the most original book on the coming of the Civil War, the Civil War years, or the Era of Reconstruction, 2018
  • Lincoln Prize, given by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, for best book that enhances the general public’s understanding of the Civil War era, 2018
  • National Humanities Medal, awarded by the President of the United States, 2013
  • Albert J. Beveridge Award, given by the American Historical Association, for the best English-language book on the history of the US, Canada, or Latin America from 1492 to the present, 2004
  • Bancroft Prize for Distinguished Book in American History, Columbia University, 2004
  • Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, School of Graduate Studies Award for Outstanding Achievement, Yale University, May 2003
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected as member in 2001
  • E-Lincoln Prize for Best Digital Project on the Era of the American Civil War, given by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Gettysburg College, 2001 ($40,000)
  • Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award, given by the Southern Historical Association for the best book in Southern history, 1993
  • James Rawley Prize, given by the Organization of American Historians, for best book on the history of race relations in the United States, 1992
  • National Book Award, Finalist for Nonfiction, 1992
  • Pulitzer Prize, Finalist for History, 1992
  • J. Willard Hurst Award, given by the Law and Society Association, for Best Book in American Legal History, co-winner for 1984-5

Awards for Teaching and Service

  • National Professor of the Year for Research and Doctoral Universities, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Council for Support and Advancement of Education (CASE Award), 2003
  • James Harvey Robinson Prize for Outstanding Aid to Teaching History, American Historical Association (AHA), 2002
  • State Council of Higher Education in Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 1991 (a $5,000 award and statue presented by Virginia's Governor)