Policy on Prizes (updated 2013)

Approved by Council, December 27, 1992; amended January 11, 1998; amended January 7, 1999; amended January 6, 2000; amended June 29, 2002; amended January 5, 2006; amended July 20, 2009; amended June 5, 2011; last amended June 2, 2013.

  1. The Research Division shall serve as the policy oversight body of the Association for book prizes. Similarly, the Teaching Division shall oversee teaching awards, and the Professional Division awards for professional service.
  2. The AHA Council will assess future prize proposals based on three criteria:
    1. The prize field must be broad enough to ensure a significant number of competitors for the prize and candidates for the prize committee. The Council will not establish prizes in a field covered by a specialist society except by agreement with such a society.
    2. The proposed prize must be endowed with sufficient funds to insure that it can be funded without drawing from the operating funds of the Association.
    3. Those establishing the prize must be open to the idea of supporting the future of the profession, allowing provision to support research grants or fellowships for graduate students and junior scholars in the prize field, in the event that its endowment eventually generates sufficient funds to exceed the maximum amount for a prize award (currently $1,500).
  3. New prizes can be initiated only if the fund supporting them is at least $50,000.
  4. The Association will charge to each prize fund reasonable direct and indirect costs.  Costs are calculated at 20 percent of the value of the prize.
  5. Prizes and awards should be conferred on only one individual or group except under exceptional circumstances, and there will be no honorable mentions, except in the case of the Asher Teaching Award.
  6. Only living persons are eligible for awards to recognize scholarly or professional distinction (Anderson, Asher, Beveridge Family, Feis, Honorary Foreign Member, Roelker, Roosevelt-Wilson, and Scholarly Distinction); however, if the honoree dies after selection but prior to awarding at the upcoming annual meeting, the award can be made posthumously. Eligibility for book prizes, the Gilbert Award, and the O'Connor Film Award are governed by the period of publication of the book, article, or film.
  7. Members of prize committees should be historians who are likely to honor rigorous scholarship with which they disagree, and to be appropriately critical of work with which they agree.
  8. In assessing nominations for the prize, prize committees are advised to consider the prestige of their field. The prize committee should not confer an award or prize if there are no worthy submissions.
  9. Works published in digital media will be eligible for all book prizes and awards. The committees will apply the same general standards to the review of electronic books as to those published in print.
  10. Prize award committees should be composed of at least three members of the Association. With the establishment of a new prize, after an initial term, the terms will be staggered.
  11. Prizes and awards will be announced at the AHA annual meeting.  The citations for all prizes will be published in Perspectives on History.
  12. To ensure relative equity in the awards given for each prize, each prize will be confer a minimum of $1,000, and a maximum prize of $1,500. If a particular prize fund does not generate sufficient funds in a given year to confer the $1,000 minimum, the Association will pay the difference out of operating funds until the prize fund is generating sufficient income to support the award. If necessary, the rotation of a prize may be altered to allow more time for the prize endowment to generate funds.
  13. Teaching and other honorific prizes are not limited by the maximum prize amount, subject to the availability of funds in the endowment for that prize.
  14. Every five years, the Finance Committee of the Council will review the amounts being conferred for each prize, to ensure that the amounts being conferred do not exceed the amount needed to maintain the general health of the prize fund. (The next planned review to take place in Spring 2017.)