Louis Pelzer Memorial Award

Recognizing essays written by students pursuing graduate degrees.



The Louis Pelzer Memorial Award recognizes essays by students pursuing graduate degrees in any period or topic in the history of the United States. The winning essay is published in the Journal of American History. The award is named for Louis Pelzer, President of the OAH in 1935–1936.


Submissions are accepted only from students pursuing graduate degrees.

Significance of the subject matter, literary craftsmanship, and competence in the handling of evidence are some of the factors that will be considered in judging the essays. The deadline for submitting an essay for consideration is November 1, 2023.

Submission Process

Essays, including footnotes, should not exceed 10,000 words. An abstract and the electronic version of the essay should be sent to [email protected] with “2024 Louis Pelzer Memorial Award Entry” noted in the subject line, and one hard copy should be submitted to:

Stephen D. Andrews, Interim Executive Editor
Journal of American History
1215 East Atwater Avenue
Bloomington IN 47401

The winning essay will be published in the Journal of American History.

Because manuscripts are judged anonymously, the author’s name and graduate program should appear only on a separate cover page. 

Past Winners


Joshua A. McGonagle Althoff, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, “Peeyankihšiaki Neighbor Management: Narrating Johnson v. McIntosh within a Longer History of Piankashaw Community Building”


Hannah Srajer, Yale University, “Imperfect Intercourse: Sexual Disability, Sexual Deviance, and the History of Vaginal Pain in the Twentieth Century United States”


Esther Cyna, Columbia University, “Schooling the Kleptocracy: Racism and School Finance in Rural North Carolina, 1900–2018” (JAH,March 2022)


Bench Ansfield, Yale University (dissertation in progress with the direction of advisors Joanne Meyerowitz and Michael Denning), “The Crisis of Insurance and the Insuring of the Crisis: Riot Reinsurance and Redlining in the Aftermath of the 1960s Uprisings” (JAH,March 2021)


Emma Teitelman, University of Cambridge (dissertation completed at the University of Pennsylvania), “The Properties of Capitalism: Industrial Enclosures in the South and West after the American Civil War” (JAH, March 2020)


Anne Gray Fischer, Brown University, “‘Land of the White Hunter’: Legal Liberalism and the Racial Politics of Morals Enforcement in Midcentury Los Angeles” (JAH, March 2019)


Daniel Platt, Brown University. “Usury Reform and the Natures of Capital in the Progressive Era” (JAH, March 2018 – Title: “The Natures of Capital: Jewish Difference and the Decline of American Usury Law, 1910–1925”)


Robert Lee, University of California, Berkeley, “Accounting for Conquest: The Price of the Louisiana Purchase of Indian Country” (JAH, March 2017)


Christopher M. Florio, Princeton University, “From Poverty to Slavery: Abolitionists, Overseers, and the Global Struggle for Labor in India” (JAH, March 2016)


Alice L. Baumgartner, Yale University, “‘The Line of Positive Safety’: Borders, Boundaries, and Nations in the Rio Grande Valley, 1848–1880” (JAH, March 2015)


Cameron B. Strang, University of Texas at Austin/dissertation fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies (2013) “Violence, Ethnicity, and Human Remains during the Second Seminole War” (JAH, March 2014)


Hidetaka Hirota, Boston College, “The Moment of Transition: State Officials, the Federal Government, and the Formation of American Immigration Policy” (JAH, March 2013)


Christine M. DeLucia, Yale University, “The Memory Frontier: Uncommon Pursuits of Past and Place in the Northeast after King Philip’s War (1675–78)” (JAH, March 2012)


Nora Doyle, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “‘The Highest Pleasure of Which Woman’s Nature is Capable’: Breastfeeding and the Sentimental Maternal Ideal in America 1750–1860” (JAH, March 2011)


Joseph L. Yannielli, Yale University, “George Thompson among the Africans: Empathy, Authority, and Insanity in the Age of Abolition” (JAH, March 2010)


Sarah Keyes, University of Southern California, “‘Like a Roaring Lion’: The Overland Trail as a Sonic Conquest” (JAH, June 2009)


Andrew W. Kahrl, Indiana University, “‘Why the Police at No. 4 ‘Get Busy’ When They Hear the Whistle of the ‘Razor Beach’ Boat’: Steamboat Excursions, Pleasure Resorts, and the Emergence of Segregation Culture on the Potomac River, 1890–1920” (JAH, March 2008 – Title: “The Slightest Semblance of Unruliness”: Steamboat Excursions, Pleasure Resorts, and the Emergence of Segregation Culture on the Potomac River)


Wendy Anne Warren, Yale University, “‘The Cause of Her Grief’: The Rape of a Slave Woman in Early New England” (JAH, March 2007)


Kevin Dawson, University of South Carolina, “Enslaved Swimmers and Divers in the Atlantic World” (JAH, March 2006)


Danielle McGuire, Rutgers University, “‘It Was Like All of Us Had Been Raped’: Black Womanhood, White Violence, and the Civil Rights Movement” (JAH, December 2004)


Margot Canaday, University of Minnesota, “Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship under the 1944 G. I. Bill” (JAH, December 2003)


Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff, University of Virginia, “Constructing G. I. Joe Louis: Cultural Solutions to the ‘Negro Problem’ during World War II” (JAH, December 2002)


Christopher Capozzola, Columbia University, “The Only Badge Needed is Your Patriotic Fervor: Vigilance, Coercion, and the Law in World War I America” (JAH, March 2002)


Constance Areson Clark, University of Colorado, “Evolution for John Doe: Pictures, the Public, and the Scopes Trial Debate” (JAH, March 2001)


Elizabeth Anne Fenn, Yale University, “Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America: Beyond Jeffrey Amherst” (JAH, March 2000)


Mae M. Ngai, Columbia University, “The Architecture of Race in Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924” (JAH, June 1999)


Richard C. Rath, Brandeis University, “Echo and Narcissus: The Afrocentric Pragmatism of W. E. B. DuBois” (JAH, September 1997)


Jeffrey P. Moran, Harvard University, “‘Modernism Gone Mad’: Sex Education Comes to Chicago, 1913” (JAH, September 1996)


Steven A. Reich, Northwestern University, “Soldiers of Democracy: Black Texans and the Fight for Citizenship, 1917–1921” (JAH, March 1996)


Pamela Grundy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “‘We Always Tried to Be Good People’: Respectability, Crazy Water Crystals and Hillbilly Music on the Air, 1933–1935” (JAH, March 1995)


Scott A. Sandage, Rutgers University, “A Marble House Divided: The Lincoln Memorial, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Politics of Memory, 1939–1963” (JAH, June 1993)


Margaret T. McFadden, Yale University, “‘America’s Boyfriend Who Can’t Get a Date’: Gender, Race, and the Cultural Work of the Jack Benny Program, 1932–1946” (JAH, June 1993)


Jodi Vandenberg-Daves, University of Minnesota, “Pursuing a Partnership between the Sexes: The Debate over Programs for Women and Girls in the Young Men’s Christian Association, 1914–1933,” (JAH, March 1992)


Leslie J. Reagan, University of Wisconsin, “‘About to Meet Her Maker’: Dying Declarations, Inquests, and the Investigation of Criminal Abortion Deaths, Chicago, 1895–1940,” (JAH, March 1991)


W. Jeffrey Bolster, Johns Hopkins University, “‘To Feel Like a Man’: Black Seamen in the Northern States, 1800–1860,” (JAH, March 1990)


Lucy Salyer, University of California, Berkeley, “Captives of Law: Judicial Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Laws, 1891–1905” (JAH, June 1989)


Gordon H. Chang, Stanford University, “JFK, China and the Bomb” (JAH, March 1988)


Michael A. Bellesiles, University of California, “The Establishment of Legal Structures on the Frontier: The Case of Revolutionary Vermont” (JAH, March 1987)


Mark Peel, Melbourne University, “On the Margins: Lodgers and Boarders in Boston, 1860–1900” (JAH, March 1986)


Wayne K. Durrill, University of North Carolina, “Producing Poverty: Local Government and Economic Development in a New South County, 1874–1884” (JAH, March, 1985)


Lacy K. Ford, University of South Carolina, “Rednecks and Merchants: Economic Development and Social Tensions in the South Carolina Upcountry, 1965–1900” (JAH, September 1984)


James L. Leloudis II, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “School Reform in the New South” (JAH, March 1983)


David E. Hamilton, University of Iowa, “Herbert Hoover and the Great Drought of 1930” (JAH, March 1982)


Cindy S. Aron, University of Maryland, “‘To Barter Their Souls for Gold’: Female Clerks in Federal Government Offices, 1862–1890” (JAH, March 1981)


Ellen Nore, Stanford University, “Charles A. Beard’s Act of Faith: Context and Content” (JAH, March 1980)


John R. Nelson Jr., University of Oregon, “Alexander Hamilton and American Manufacturing: A Reexamination” (JAH, March 1979)


David A. Corbin, University of Maryland, “Betrayal in the West Virginia Coal Fields: Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist Party of America, 1912–1914” (JAH, March 1978)


Deborah L. Haines, University of Chicago, “Scientific History as a Teaching Method: The Formative Years” (JAH, March 1977)


Theodore M. Hammett, Brandeis University, “Two Mobs of Jacksonian Boston: Ideology and Interest” (JAH, March 1976)


Charles W. McCurdy, University of California, San Diego, “Justice Field and the Jurisprudence of Government-Business Relations: Some Parameters of Laissez-Faire Constitutionalism 1863–97” (JAH, March 1975)


Kenneth Kusmer, University of Chicago, “The Functions of Organized Charity in the Progressive Era: Chicago as a Case Study” (JAH, December 1973)


Christopher G. Wye, Kent State University, “The New Deal and the Negro Community: Toward a Broader Conceptualization” (JAH, December 1972)


Robert L. Buroker, University of Chicago, “From Voluntary Association to Welfare State: The Illinois Immigrants’ Protective League, 1908–1926” (JAH, December 1971)


Pete Daniel, University of Maryland, “Up From Slavery and Down to Peonage: The Alonzo Bailey Case” (JAH, December 1970)


Rita Werner Gordon, Columbia University, “The Change in the Political Alignment of Chicago’s Negroes During the New Deal” (JAH, December 1969)


William B. Hixson Jr., Columbia University, “Moorfield Storey and the Struggle for Equality” (JAH, December 1968)


Edward A. Purcell Jr., University of Wisconsin, “Ideas and Interests: Businessmen and the Interstate Commerce Act” (JAH, December 1967)


James P. Johnson, University of Chicago, “Drafting the NRA Code of Fair Competition for the Bituminous Coal Industry” (JAH, December 1966)


Stanley K. Schultz, University of Chicago, “The Morality of Politics: The Muckrakers’ Vision of Democracy” (JAH, December 1965)


Jerold S. Auerbach, Columbia University, “The La Follette Committee: Labor and Civil Liberties in the New Deal” (JAH, December 1964)


No award given.


G. Cullom Davis, University of Illinois, “The Transformation of the Federal Trade Commission, 1914–1929” (JAH, December 1962)


No award given..


No award given.


No award given.


No award given.


Clifford S. Griffin, University of Wisconsin, “Religious Benevolence as Social Control, 1815–1860” (JAH, December 1957)


No award given.


Mary E. Young, Cornell University, “Creek Frauds: A Study in Conscience and Corruption” (JAH, December 1955)


Holman Hamilton, University of Kentucky, “Democratic Senate Leadership and the Compromise Corruption” (JAH, December 1954)


Roy N. Lokken, University of Washington, “Has the Mystery of ‘A Public Man’ Been Solved?” (JAH, December 1953)


Robert Johannsen, University of Washington, “Secession Crisis and the Frontier: Washington Territory, 1869–1861” (JAH, December 1952)


David W. Noble, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “The New Republic and the Idea of Progress, 1914–1920” (JAH, December 1951)


Ted Worley, Universtiy of Texas at Austin, “Control of the Real Estate Bank of the State of Arkansas, 1836–1838” (JAH, December 1950)


Bruce Staiger, Southold High School, Long Island, “Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837–1838” (JAH, December 1949)