Bloomington, IN—John D'Emilio, University of Illinois at Chicago, has been selected by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) to receive the 2013 Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award, which is given annually to an individual or individuals whose contributions have significantly enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history. On Saturday, April 13, OAH President Albert M. Camarillo and OAH President-Elect Alan M. Kraut will present the award in San Francisco, California, during the 106th annual meeting of the organization.
The OAH recognizes John D'Emilio, Professor of History and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for his pioneering scholarship in the field of gay and lesbian studies, for inspiring generations of young historians who went on to develop and expand this field, and for his crucial work as a public intellectual and activist who has built bridges between academia and the world of political advocacy and
D'Emilio is the author or editor of more than half a dozen books, including his now classic first book, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States; his coauthored book (with Estelle Freedman), now in its third edition, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America; and Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, which won two major prizes and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His coedited collection of essays (with Estelle Freedman) by the late Allan Bérubé, My Desire for History: Essays on Gay, Community, and Labor History, won the 2013 Boswell Prize for Best Book, awarded by the Committee on LGBT History, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association. His many awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2005 he won the Brudner Prize for lifetime contributions to lesbian and gay studies awarded by Yale University.
John D'Emilio is a model professional citizen whose work transcends the boundaries between scholarship, teaching, and public life. He has cultivated this expansive citizenship since entering the profession. In 1973, while still a graduate student, he helped found the Gay Academic Union, a national organization of faculty, graduate students, and independent researchers. A former cochair of the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, he was also the founding director of its Policy Institute, and he continues to be an active participant in its annual conference, "Creating Change." As scholars struggle to infuse historical accuracy into public, political, and legal debates, it is of particular significance that U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy both cited and quoted Intimate Matters in the majority opinion of the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, the historic decision that declared state sodomy statutes unconstitutional.
Over the years John D'Emilio has dedicated time and energy to numerous academic and
non-academic organizations, including his service as a member of the Board of Directors
of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, as codirector of OutHistory.org, as Director of the
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, among others.
The OAH honors John D'Emilio for his distinguished service as a member of the profession whose work in many arenas has helped to reshape the field of American history, forge ties between the worlds of scholarship and public life, and broaden our intellectual horizons. In countless ways, John D'Emilio has contributed to a more open and inclusive scholarly community and a more just and fair society.
Founded in 1907, the OAH is the largest learned society and professional organization dedicated to the teaching and study of the American past. The OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history. Members in the United States and abroad include college and university professors; students; precollegiate teachers; archivists, museum curators, and other public historians employed in government and the private sector.