This week, we received word that Jane C. Beck’s acclaimed book Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga, won two awards: the 2016 Chicago Folklore Prize and the 2016 Wayland D. Hand Prize.
The Chicago Folklore Prize, the oldest international award recognizing excellence in folklore scholarship, goes to the author of the best book of folklore scholarship for the year and is offered jointly by the American Folklore Society and the Division of Humanities of the University of Chicago. The Wayland D. Hand Prize is given biennially and is awarded to an outstanding book that combines historical and folkloristic perspectives. It is awarded by the History and Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society.
In 1983, Beck began to interview the one-hundred year-old Daisy Turner, a daughter of freed American slaves and keeper of a multigenerational family narrative that stretched back to her Yoruba ancestors. Daisy Turner’s storytelling builds the Turner family saga, using at its foundation the oft-repeated touchstone stories at the heart of their experiences: the abduction into slavery of Turner’s African ancestors; Daisy’s father learning to read; his return as a soldier to his former plantation to kill the overseer; Daisy’s childhood stand against racism; and her family’s life in Vermont. Throughout, Beck weaves in historical research and offers a folklorist’s perspective on oral history and the hazards and uses of memory.