Library of Virginia Literary Prizes for Nonfiction Panel

The three finalists for the 2022 prize will be featured on a virtual panel at 6pm EST on October 12. The other two finalists are John Woodrow Cox for Children Under Fire: An American Crisis and Caroline Janney, The Ends of War: The Unfinished Fight of Lee’s Army after Appomattox.

You can attend online at or

License plate taken

As appropriate as it would have been to procure this license plate after writing so much about Mr. O., aka James Ogilvie, it appears that another Virginia performer — the singer/ guitarist Jimmy Overton — snagged it first.

Book Prizes for The Strange Genius of Mr. O

The Society for Historians of the Early American Republic awarded Strange Genius its James Bradford Prize for the Best Biography at the annual meeting of the organization in New Orleans in July 2022.

In addition, the Library of Virginia recently including the book among its three finalists for its annual Literary Prize for Nonfiction. The winner will be announced at the Library’s annual gala, held October 15, 2022.

Strange Genius in the Classroom

During the past year, several graduate courses have not just included The Strange Genius of Mr. O, but have also brought Carolyn Eastman in via Zoom to engage with students and talk about the process of developing a project. These have included courses taught by David Henkin (UC Berkeley), François Furstenberg and Sarah Pearsall (Johns Hopkins University), Kirsten Fischer (University of Minnesota), and Andrew Robertson (CUNY Graduate Center).

Interested? Contact her at ceastman[at]

“The Woman’s Plague” talk at NYU

Conversation on New York’s Yellow Fever Epidemics

Carolyn Eastman speaks about her new research on how New Yorkers experienced and survived the yellow fever epidemics of the 1790s, in conversation with Elizabeth Reis of Macaulay Honors College, CUNY. This conversation, hosted by the New-York Historical Society, is free and fully virtual. Register here to attend.

The image below helps to illustrate the talk. Sketched by a young medical student who later served as a doctor at the brand-new Bellevue Hospital, it shows a heroic doctor shooting Death with a musket — Death, who tries to kill the young sick woman in bed. (Look at the realism of the bedpan underneath the bed!)

Family, Slavery, and Love in the Early American Republic

November 2021: Following the tragically early death of the renowned historian Jan Ellen Lewis, several of her closest colleagues and friends joined her husband, historian and educator Barry Bienstock, in collecting some of her most influential essays–previously dispersed over a wide range of academic journals and edited volumes–into a single book beautifully produced by the Omohundro Institute and the University of North Carolina Press. Edited by Bienstock, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Peter Onuf, and with essays by Carolyn Eastman, Nicole Eustace, and David Waldstreicher, this collection of Lewis’s brilliant writing is available now. (And UNC press often has sales!)

New York’s Water Problem

October 2021: The Gotham Center for New York City History published Eastman’s short essay on The Problem of Water in New York’s History, a piece that draws together the history of urban development and infrastructure in the 1790s with the growing problem of yellow fever outbreaks and public health.

Strange Genius at Mount Vernon/ C-SPAN

On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 7pm, Carolyn Eastman will present a Ford Evening Book Talk in the Smith Library at George Washington’s Mount Vernon on her 2021 book, The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States’ First Forgotten Celebrity. Information about registering to attend in person or remotely can be found here. The talk will be recorded by C-SPAN American History TV.

Eastman named an NEH Public Scholar

August 2021: The National Endowment for the Humanities announced its awards for the Public Scholars program, which helps to fund “well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public,” as the program’s website explains. Read more about this program and the other 2021 awardees.

Mark Boonshoft reviews Strange Genius

May 2021: “Ultimately, the strength of this book is the astounding source base Eastman has compiled, which — along with beautiful prose and analytical precision — allows her to tell a rich and detailed story that will appeal widely. This book exhibits all the virtues of both popular and academic history, and eschews the flaws of both. Carolyn Eastman’s The Strange Genius of Mr. O left me feeling a bit like Ogilvie’s rural audiences: awed.” Read this lovely review by the executive director of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) at the Gotham Blog.