UNH history professor Lucy Salyer receives prestigious international book award

Monday, June 29, 2020

Lucy Salyer, a UNH history professor, received the Myrna F. Bernath Book Prize for "Under the Starry Flag: How a Band of Irish Americans Joined the Fenian Revolt and Sparked a Crisis over Citizenship," published by Harvard University Press in 2018. The biennial award is given by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) to recognize outstanding scholarship in the field of international history.

The prize committee lauded Salyer’s "engaging prose" in telling the "gripping story of how a group of Irish Americans exploited differences between U.S. and British understandings of citizenship in their push for Irish independence." Pointing to the wide-ranging significance of the work, the committee noted how this transnational legal battle dramatized the idea of citizenship as an inalienable right. In combination with passage of the Reconstruction-era debates over citizenship for newly freed African Americans, Salyer shows how the act of Irish freedom fighters sparked "a human rights revolution." "'Under the Starry Flag' raises important questions about citizenship and immigration that are still relevant today," concluded Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu of Rice University, chair of the prize committee.

SHAFR is an international organization of 1,300 members spread across 35 different countries. It was created 53 years ago, devoted to "the study, advancement and dissemination of knowledge of American foreign relations" through its annual meetings, publications and prizes that honor the best work in the field.