By David J. Kent
Monday, November 1, 2021
Long-time Lincoln Group member Edna Greene Medford is retiring from Howard University. In an email exchange after hearing of her plans, Edna said that "after nearly 35 years, I am hanging up the old school marm’s bookbag. It has been quite the ride."
Members of this organization know Edna well. She has been a regular speaker in Lincoln Group events over the years, appearing in symposia, special events, and dinner meetings. She is highly regarded in the Lincoln historian community, appearing regularly on C-SPAN. She has also been featured in documentaries on the History Channel and in independent productions, as well as in videos on Lincoln, the Civil War, and emancipation produced by the Smithsonian. She has had a long career at Howard University, serving as professor of history, chair of the history department, director of the Department of History’s graduate and undergraduate programs, and Associate Provost of Faculty Affairs.
Specializing in nineteenth-century African-American history, she taught courses in the Jacksonian Era, Civil War and Reconstruction, and African-American History to 1877. Edna received her B.A. from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, an M.A. from the University of Illinois (Urbana), and her Ph.D. in United States history from the University of Maryland (College Park). She has lectured widely to scholarly and community-based groups and has presented to national and international audiences on topics that range from Alexis de Tocqueville’s influence on American politics to community-building among American free blacks in Civil War-era Canada, to African American responses to Abraham Lincoln’s wartime policies.
In addition to her work at Howard and her contributions to the Lincoln Group of DC, Edna is also the current Vice President of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and on the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Forum. Her writings include the book, Lincoln and Emancipation, part of the Concise Lincoln Library series and a previous book of choice for deep study by the Lincoln Group Study Forum. She has also co-authored The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views, compiled and edited The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War (Volumes I and II). While serving as the Director for History of New York's African American Burial Ground Project, she edited Historical Perspectives of the African American Burial Ground: New York Blacks and the Diaspora. She has also written numerous articles and book chapters on African Americans, especially during the Civil War era.
In September 2021, Howard University awarded her the Distinguished Faculty Medal. Channeling Lincoln's comment about the honor of being chosen as captain of his company in the Black Hawk War, Edna said she "was surprised and honored," and noted that the award is "much better than a gold watch!" But that isn't her only award. In addition to widespread recognition, Edna was the 2009 special bicentennial recipient of the Order of Lincoln, an award given by the state of Illinois, for her scholarship on the president.
On behalf of the Lincoln Group of DC, I want to offer our congratulations to Edna Greene Medford for her long career at Howard University and her forthcoming retirement, which becomes official in December. We hope that she will continue to honor us with her scholarship and her contributions to the Lincoln Group, ALI, and the Lincoln Forum.