Ridner wins top Pa. historical association honor


The Pennsylvania Historical Association is recognizing a Mississippi State historian for her examination of "a small community crucially located at the crossroads of the urban centers of the eastern seaboard and the western frontier."

Associate professor Judith A. Ridner recently accepted the organization's 2012 Philip S. Klein Book Prize for "A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). She teaches and conducts research in early American history at the university.

The association, which was organized in 1932, bestows the honor every two years for the best book on a topic that illuminates Keystone State history. Ridner was presented the award during PHA's annual conference held earlier this month in Harrisburg.

"My book reconsiders the role of early American towns, as well as Scots-Irish colonists, played in the development of the early American West," Ridner said.

The Scots-Irish were Presbyterian and other Protestant dissenters from the Irish province of Ulster who immigrated to North America during the 18th and 19th centuries, she explained. Their cultural influence continues to shape American society, she added.

In the 320-page work, Ridner argues that Carlisle, despite its size, is important in its own right, both for its specific contributions to national events--including the Seven Years' War (also known as the French and Indian War), American Revolution and the Whiskey Rebellion--and as an archetype of early American town life.

"'A Town In-Between' is a rich new offering for those interested in the study of Pennsylvania history, but also will be of great interest to a wide variety of scholars with interests in early America, the backcountry, and most notably urban history, where it arguably makes its greatest scholarly contribution," the Klein Prize committee noted in announcing its selection.

Ridner joined the MSU history department in the 2011 fall semester. Previously, she was history department chair and associate professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa honor society member and magna cum laude graduate of Dickinson College, which is located in Carlisle. She also holds master's and doctoral degrees from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. (For more see www.history.msstate.edu/jridner.htm.

Jim Laird | University Relations

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