2015 Sidney Hook Memorial Award

By Darby Rourick

Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and Affiliated Faculty at Harvard Law School, received Phi Beta Kappa’s  Sidney Hook Memorial Award on October 10 at the 44th Triennial Council in Denver. The award was created in memory of Phi Beta Kappa member and American philosopher Sidney Hook. It recognizes excellence in three endeavors – scholarship, undergraduate teaching, and leadership in the cause of liberal arts education. 

Lepore earned her BA in English from Tufts University in 1987, MA in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1990, and PhD in American Studies from Yale University in 1995. She joined the Harvard History Department in 2003 and was Chair of the History and 

Literature Program in 2005-10, 2012, and 2014. In 2012, Harvard named her Harvard College Professor in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching. 

The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2014), Lepore’s most recent book, is a New York Times Best Seller and winner of the 2015 American History Book Prize. Her earlier work includes The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (1998), winner of Phi Beta Kappa’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the Bancroft Prize, and the Berkshire Prize; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (2005), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (2013), Time magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize, and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Lepore is a staff writer for The New Yorker, to which she has been contributing since 2005. Her work also has appeared in the New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, Journal of American History, Foreign Affairs, Yale Law Journal, The American Scholar, and American Quarterly. 

Her research has been funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Pew Foundation, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, Charles Warren Center, and  Woodrow Wilson Foundation. 

A leader in supporting liberal arts education, Lepore is the President of the Society of American Historians and an Emeritus Commissioner of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. From 2011 to 2013, she was a PBK Visiting Scholar. During the 2015-16 academic year, Lepore is on sabbatical working on her next book, Joe Gould’s Teeth, which will be published in 2016.  

Lepore lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and their three sons. 

Above: PBK Secretary, John Churchill, Jill Leopre, and Past PBK President, Katherine Soule. Poto by Jim Turley.  

Darby Rourick is a senior at Saint Joseph’s University majoring in English and philosophy, and minoring in Medieval Renaissance and Reformation Studies. Saint Joseph’s University is home to the Phi of Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.