John Demos, “The Unredeemed Captive: Her Journey, and My Own”

Each year we present a Baron Lecture as part of the festivities surrounding the Society’s annual meeting.  The series is named after Robert C. Baron, president of Fulcrum Publishing and long time AAS member and Council Chairman from 1993-2003. These lectures provide a wonderful opportunity for an AAS member who has written a significant and award-winning book to reflect on the creation and reception of the work and its subsequent influence on their own career, the historical profession, and society in general.  This Thursday John P. Demos will deliver the eighth annual Baron Lecture, entitled “The Unredeemed Captive: Her Journey, and My Own.”

When Demos’s book The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America was published by Knopf in 1994, it won the Francis Parkman and Ray Allen Billington prizes in American history. Since then, it has become a model for new approaches to writing narrative history. In The Unredeemed Captive, Demos offers a striking retelling of the aftermath of the 1704 French and Native American raid on the Puritan settlement in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Reverend John Williams, his wife, and five children were captured during this raid, forever altering the bonds that held the Williams family together. Although Williams and four of his children were later released, his wife died on the march. His fifth child, Eunice, converted to Catholicism and married a Native American in Canada. Despite the ongoing attempts of Eunice’s family to persuade her to return to Massachusetts, she chose her new life, and her new family, thus remaining “unredeemed.”

In his lecture on Thursday evening, Demos will reflect on the book’s career, as well as its impact on his own career as a scholar and teacher of generations of early Americanists at Brandeis and Yale.

John Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.  Demos’s award-winning books cover topics ranging from family life in Plymouth County, Massachusetts to witch-hunting in the Western World. These works include A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony (1970), the Bancroft Prize-winning Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (1982), Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America (2004), and The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-hunting in the Western World (2008).  Demos is a member of the Antiquarian Society, and he will be the Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence during the 2012 calendar year.

The Unredeemed Captive: Her Journey, and My Own” will take place in Antiquarian Hall on Thursday, October 20, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.  The program is free and open to the public.  For more information and directions to the library, please visit the public programs page on the AAS website.

Published by

James David Moran

Vice President for Programs and Outreach, AAS

One thought on “John Demos, “The Unredeemed Captive: Her Journey, and My Own””

  1. I lived in Longmeadow, MA some years ago and was active in the Historical Society and at the First Church. The First Church had the diary of Rev. Williams and he wrote about his sister coming for a visit and refusing to live in the house but instead setting up a tent in his yard.

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