Scene Last Night: Yale Club Hosts Prize Won by Ex-Merrill Man

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon

Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co.

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon

Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co. Close

Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Lamaria McDonald, a junior at Frederick Douglass Academy; Lewis Lehrman, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and chairman of Ten Squared Management LLC; and Thakane Masondo, a senior at Frederick Douglass Academy. Close

Lamaria McDonald, a junior at Frederick Douglass Academy; Lewis Lehrman, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Joseph McNay, chairman of Essex Investment Management Co., and a financial supporter of Yale School of Management's new campus, with Lesley Hermann, executive director of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. McNay is famous in Yale circles for investing money for the class of 1954 ($300,000 turned into $100 million, he said). Close

Joseph McNay, chairman of Essex Investment Management Co., and a financial supporter of Yale School of Management's... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Ned Blackhawk, a professor of history at Yale, and Judith A. Carney, a professor of geography at University of California Los Angeles. Carney is a winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize for "In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World," which she wrote with her husband, Richard Nicholas Rosomoff. Close

Ned Blackhawk, a professor of history at Yale, and Judith A. Carney, a professor of geography at University of... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Martha Hodes, a history professor at New York University and chairman of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize jury; David Blight, a history professor at Yale and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center; and Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia. Close

Martha Hodes, a history professor at New York University and chairman of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize jury;... Read More

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Kenneth Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and great-great-great-grandson of Douglass, with Patrick Ojimba, a junior at Frederick Douglass Academy. Close

Kenneth Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and great-great-great-grandson of Douglass,... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Linda Evans and Walter Evans of Savannah, Georgia. Walter Evans, a retired surgeon, has acquired an extensive collection of African-American art and manuscripts including works by James Baldwin and love letters by Frederick Douglass's son. The museum at Savannah College of Art and Design is building the Walter O. Evans Center for African-American Studies to house parts of his collection. Close

Linda Evans and Walter Evans of Savannah, Georgia. Walter Evans, a retired surgeon, has acquired an extensive... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Ilana Pergam, director of studies at the Chapin School; Chris Forster, a 1994 recipient of the Yale Medal; Betsy Forster, who taught Pergam in elementary school; and Ellen Baylor, head of the history department at Chapin. Close

Ilana Pergam, director of studies at the Chapin School; Chris Forster, a 1994 recipient of the Yale Medal; Betsy... Read More

Marsha Andrews, an opera singer; Edward Ball, author of "Slaves in the Family," a recipient of a National Book Award; and Candace Skorupa, who teaches French at Yale. Close

Marsha Andrews, an opera singer; Edward Ball, author of "Slaves in the Family," a recipient of a National Book Award;... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Yale history professor David Brion Davis, founding director of the Gilder Lehrman Center. Close

Yale history professor David Brion Davis, founding director of the Gilder Lehrman Center.

Yale alumni Lewis Lehrman, chairman of Ten Squared Management LLC, and Richard Gilder, partner at Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., gathered with other history fans Thursday night at the Yale Club of New York City.

The occasion marked the awarding of the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for nonfiction on slavery. It was named for the self-educated abolitionist, whose great-great-great- grandson, Kenneth Morris, was present.

Enjoying the filet mignon and white chocolate mousse were Joseph McNay, chairman of Essex Investment Management Co., Walter Evans, a manuscript collector who owns several Douglass family scrapbooks, historian Eric Foner and a lot of students from the Frederick Douglass Academy.

Lehrman told two students about Alexander Hamilton. “I started out as a teacher,” he said to Bloomberg News.

“I read all the finalists,” Gilder said.

The two men are the founders and funders of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, which sponsor the prize.

“Not only is it a mouthful to spit out all those greats, but it makes me feel far removed,” said Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family foundation, in after-dinner remarks. “It’s like trying to picture a billion dollars with all those zeroes.”

Prizes went to “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World” by Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, and “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” by Siddharth Kara, a former Merrill Lynch investment banker.

Foner, a professor at Columbia University, was recently named the 2011 winner of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Lincoln Prize for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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