Tiya Miles, PhD is a professor in the Department of American Culture, the Department of Afro-American and African Studies, the Department of History, and Native American Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research and creative interest also include a focus on gender. In 2011, Miles was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (aka the "Genius Grant). She is author of The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) and Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (University of North Carolina Press, 2005). She recently published an article in the Michigan Historical Review entitled, "'Shall Woman's Voice Be Hushed?': Laura Smith Haviland in Abolitionist Women's History."
Sydney Nathans, PhD is Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University concentrating on19th century U.S. social and political history. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations and the James Harvey Robinson Award of the American Historical Association. In 2013, his most recent publication To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker (Harvard University Press, 2013) won the Frederick Douglass Prize awarded by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). The book tells of one woman's journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad and her fierce determination to secure the freedom of her children who remained in bondage.
Jean Fegan Yellin, PhD is Professor Emerita of English at Pace University. She has published extensively on literature, race and women in the 19th century. One of Yellin's most important contributions was the authentication of Harriet Jacobs' slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (1861), which resulted in an edition published by Harvard University Press in 1987. In 2004, Yellin published an important biography on Jacobs, Harriet Jacobs A Life (Basic Books), which won an award from the Modern Language Association and the Frederick Douglass Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Yellin also edited an annotated volume of Harriet Jacobs' papers which were published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2008.
In addition to being a keynote speaker, Yellin will also be this year's recipient of the Wilbur H. Siebert Award, which is awarded annually by the National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and recognizes outstanding contributions to Underground Railroad research.