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Ekirch receives Guggenheim

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 31 - May 21, 1998

A. Roger Ekirch, professor of history at Virginia Tech, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the most prestigious national awards for scholarly research.
Guggenheim fellows, who have included Pulitzer-Prize winners and 40 Nobel laureates over the years, are chosen annually by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation from among scholars, scientists, and artists "on the basis of unusually distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment."
The fellowship will enable Ekirch to finish writing his book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. The book explores a fresh realm of Western culture: nocturnal life in Europe and America from the late Middle Ages to the modern era. Although rife with danger, nighttime, Ekirch maintains, afforded pre-industrial populations a sanctuary from daily experience, an alternate world that shunned social hierarchies and established conventions. If daytime, as one early writer remarked, taught people "what they should be," night revealed "what they were."
Educated at Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University, Ekirch, who, with his family, lives in Roanoke, came to Virginia Tech in 1977. He is the author of numerous books and articles in early American and British history, including Bound for America, published by Oxford University Press. In 1981, he was the first Paul Mellon Research fellow at Cambridge University, and he has held three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Ekirch's father, Arthur A. Ekirch, also a historian, an author, and a professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Albany, won a Guggenheim in 1953, making the Ekirches one of the small number of family pairs to receive this honor.