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Tom Okie ’02 Awarded the Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize



On May 20, 2013, the Society of American Historians awarded Covenant alumnus Tom Okie ’02 the 53rd annual Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize for his dissertation, “Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia: Culture and Agriculture in the American South.” Okie received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia in 2012.

 

The Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize is named after the society’s founder and is annually awarded “for the best-written doctoral dissertation on an American subject.” In addition to a $2,000 prize, a publishing member of the Society of American Historians will publish Okie’s dissertation. 

 

“‘Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia’ chronicles the rise of the Georgia peach as a major crop and a central symbol of the South's redevelopment following the Civil War,” Okie wrote.

 

In awarding the prize, the society noted that “Okie takes what appears to be an everyday object (even a cliché), ‘the Georgia peach,’ and crafts a beautifully written, elegantly rendered tale that is full of surprises and of profound implications for our understanding of America’s past…he brings to light, and to life, a colorful, diverse, energetic, and sometimes eccentric cast of characters.”

 

Both Tom and his wife, Kelly ’02, are alumni of Covenant. As a history student, Tom studied American environmental history under Covenant history professor, Dr. Paul Morton. 

 

“Tom was a bright student and wrote well. He was always imaginative and thoughtful in his approach to asking questions and in his papers,” said Morton. “‘Everything is Peaches’ is a very clever research project—it combined agricultural history, environmental history, social history, and southern history. He brought really interesting sub-fields of history together. Tom is clearly a very good historian and it’s impressive for his work to be recognized in this way.”

 

Okie was a visiting assistant professor of history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine from 2012-13.  He will serve as assistant professor of history education at Kennesaw State University starting this fall.