Honoring the Memory and Legacy of David Brion Davis

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, revered historian David Brion Davis passed away at the age of 92. Professor Davis was integral to the founding of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and served as the founding director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale, where he was Sterling Professor of American History Emeritus. Davis wrote sixteen highly influential books, most famously his trilogy, The Problem of Slavery, which revolutionized the study of slavery, making it central to the study of American history. Davis was memorialized on Tuesday night, April 16, at the thirtieth annual Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize ceremony by his successor at the Gilder Lehrman Center, David Blight—who was receiving the Lincoln Prize for his Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

Blight recounted the profound humanity at the core of his late colleague and friend, and summed up Davis’s importance as a historian by saying: “There’s FDR, JFK, MLK; but in our field there’s only one DBD.”

In 2015, David Brion Davis was honored at the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s gala. This video was shown to the assembled guests.