Changing the Rules for Three AHA Prizes

Starting with next year’s competition, some rules for the AHA’s John A. Dunning Prize, Herbert Feis Award, and Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History are changing.

In the case of the Dunning Prize (for United States history) the revisions mark only a very small change—eliminating language that invites “monographs in manuscript or in print” that are “published or completed.” This means that only published books will be considered for the prize beginning in 2012. The prize committee already receives well over 100 submissions each year, and the language was not in the original bequest, so the AHA Council readily agreed to the change.

In comparison, the changes to the Herbert Feis Prize (for distinguished contributions to public history) are quite substantial. Troubled by a meager number of nominations last year, the 2010 prize selection committee suggested a number of revisions to encourage greater interest, recommending that we

  • widen eligibility beyond “the last ten years”;
  • reiterate or make more explicit that this is a prize for service, not books;
  • request more specific examples of contributions to the field; and
  • emphasize that the contributions should be of more than local significance.

Council approved these changes, along with some additional modifications to bring the language of the prize up-to-date.

Like the Feis Prize Committee, the 2010 selection committee for the Roy Rosenzweig Prize was also disappointed by the number of submissions received. To address those concerns, the committee recommended (and Council approved) new language that allows projects to be re-nominated. The new language will also ask for additional details about how the prize funds might be used.

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