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History professor earns NEH Fellowship for new Lincoln book

Lincoln's face on an old newspaper

Abraham Lincoln materials in Milner Library's Special Collections unit.

Illinois State University’s Stewart Winger is the recipient of a 2013 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship.

Winger, an associate professor of history, received the more than $50,000 honor for research on his upcoming book, Abraham Lincoln, Public Power, and the Expansion of the Market Economy, 1835-1877. The book examines the birth of the modern business corporation through the work of Abraham Lincoln as a corporate lawyer, arguing often for the Illinois Central Railroad and often against other railroads.

Stewart Winger

Stewart Winger, an associate professor of history at Illinois State.

“The highly prestigious NEH fellowship is the gold standard in humanistic disciplines such as history,” noted Department of History Chair Anthony Crubaugh, who added that over the past five years, only about 7 percent of all applicants for the fellowship received funding.

Winger is the author of Lincoln, Religion and Romantic Cultural Politics. He has taught graduate research seminars in using Lincoln’s legal papers to study U.S. legal history, and has co-curated a museum exhibit Prologue to Presidency: Abraham Lincoln on the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit.

“This fellowship will be a chance to examine Lincoln’s legal thinking in the context of broader intellectual developments,” said Winger. “Law and government policy were deliberately used to construct many of the most important elements of a modern economy, and in Illinois, Lincoln’s fingerprints are all over it.”

Formerly of the American University in Cairo and Lawrence Technological University, Winger specializes in American intellectual, cultural, and religious history of the Antebellum Period. A graduate of the University of Chicago his research has appeared in scholarly journals such as the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.