Scott Reynolds Nelson, an associate professor of history at the College, has won two awards for his nonfiction book, “Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend,” published in 2006. He was given the Ansfield-Wolf award, a prize for excellent publication work on diversity and race and will receive a $10,000 stipend. More recently, ‘Steel Drivin’ Man’ won the 2007 Merle Curti Prize from the Organization of American Historians in the category of U.S. social and cultural history. Nelson’s book is also a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing.
p. The book, which according to W&M News “reads like a historical mystery,” tells the story of John Henry and the truth behind his mythical status in history. Nelson’s research, which was highly acclaimed by the Organization of American Historians, consisted of following lyrical clues about Henry’s plight in “The Ballad of John Henry” and debunking the mythical image of his work.