This program, launched in 1999 with a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was designed to use the prestige of the AHA—by conferring the bluest of ribbons awarded by the grandest of juries with the full authority of the AHA behind it—to set a high standard for electronic publishing. By legitimizing electronic publishing, the AHA hopes to change attitudes of academics toward e-books. By making most of the new media, the program may also contribute to a new conception of the book itself as a vehicle of knowledge.
Between 1999 and 2004, the AHA awarded Gutenberg-e prizes to high quality dissertations from many different fields and topics in history. A distinguished panel of scholars judged the dissertations, selecting the award recipients primarily on the scholarly merits of the dissertations. Each prize consisted of a $20,000 fellowship to be used by the author to convert the dissertation into an electronic monograph of the highest quality to be published by Columbia University Press.
The project consisted of four parts:
- Committees of distinguished members of the American Historical Association selected 36 top-quality dissertations,
- The authors worked collaboratively with each other and staff at Columbia to develop their dissertations into digital monographs, as chronicled in a series of reports on workshops at Columbia University,
- Columbia University Press is currently publishing the digital monographs, and
- Officers and staff at the AHA and Columbia have been actively promoting electronic publication through a series of reports.
The selection phase of the project has now ended, but the publication of new titles will continue through 2008, and the AHA will continue to promote electronic publication in the discipline. For additional information about the project and the Association's work on these issues, please contact Robert B. Townsend, the AHA's Assistant Director for Research and Publications.