Both Franklin and Yu have been pioneers in bringing to light aspects of American and Chinese history that have been overlooked in the past. An emeritus professor of history at Duke University, Franklin has been a trailblazer in the study of African-American history. His first book, "The Free Negro in North Carolina," remains the standard work and key reference point for those researching free African-Americans in the years before the Civil War. His most recent book, his autobiography "Mirror to America," was the subject of a webcast at the Library of Congress. Franklin also gave a talk on his book and his life's work at the 2006 National Book Festival.
Yu, an emeritus professor of East Asian studies and history at Princeton University, has covered some 2,000 years of Chinese history in more than 30 books. His books range in focus, including early and medieval Chinese history, the intellectual and cultural history of the later imperial period, and studies of intellectuals and intellectual problems in the modern period. His research on the Confucian heritage has rescued the subject from a legacy of triviality and neglect.