Novel of pre-Civil War Maryland wins new award




For her nine years of research bringing back to life and thus preserving the vivid 1850s African American history of her own farm, and the remarkable life of Elizabeth Burton, its free Black owner 165 years before, author Barbara Lockhart has been awarded Underground Railroad Free Press's 2022 Prize for Preservation, the highest honor bestowed in the international Underground Railroad community.

Lockhart’s research resulted in her multiple-awarded book, Elizabeth’s Field: Of Freedom and Bondage on Harriet Tubman's Eastern Shore (Secant Publishing, 2020). Lockhart’s and Burton’s farm is located in Dorchester County, Maryland, birthplace of Harriet Tubman, who makes appearances in the book. Elizabeth’s Field was reviewed in the July, 2022, issue of Free Press.

Much of Elizabeth’s Field was related to the author by her 84-year-old African American neighbor, Mary Taylor, who told Lockhart the intact oral tradition of the property and of the racist trials that the people who lived on Lockhart's farm and nearby endured 165 years ago. Lockhart, now 84 herself, deftly wove past and present into the revealing lesson of how wrongs can echo down through generations. This beautifully written story has not only been preserved but was resurrected.

Three Free Press Prize winners are chosen annually for advancement of knowledge, leadership, and preservation in the international Underground Railroad community. The Hortense Simmons Memorial Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge is named in honor of a Free Press Prize judge who devoted her career to the advancement of knowledge as Professor of English Literature and Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento. Underground Railroad Free Press is the leading news publication on the Underground Railroad. Free Press operates Lynx, the central registry of modern Underground Railroad organizations, and Datebook, the international community’s central calendar of events.


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