Shantyboats and Roustabouts Wins James V. Swift Medal

Perhaps no one contributed more to preserving the history of life on the rivers than James V. Swift, a longtime columnist of the Waterways Journal who wrote the “Old Boat Column” for many years. As the Journal’s Vice-President and business and advertising manager, he supported a number of river organizations, and he indexed the Waterways Journal on note cards. His vast research materials on river-related themes have been preserved at the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library in the St. Louis Mercantile Library on the campus of the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

To commemorate Swift’s legacy, the library awards the James V. Swift Medal every two years to honor individuals who contribute significantly to the field of inland waterways research or art. I’m proud to announce that I’ve been awarded the medal for excellence in maritime literature based on my new book, Shantyboats and Roustabouts: The River Poor of St. Louis, 1875-1930 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2023). I will attend the award ceremony and give a short presentation on April 6, 2023.

Artwork by James Godwin Scott, Towboats Waiting for Alton Locks, n.d., watercolor on paper. From the Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Art Museum.

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