Merle Curti Social History Award

Recognizing the best book in American social history.



The Merle Curti Award annually recognizes the author of the best book in American social history. Merle Curti was president of the OAH in 1951–1952.


Each entry must be published during the period January 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024.

Submission Process

One copy of each entry, clearly labeled “2025 Merle Curti Social History Award Entry,” must be mailed directly to the committee members listed below. Each committee member must receive all submissions postmarked by October 1, 2024.

Bound page proofs may be used for books to be published after October 1, 2024, and before January 1, 2025. If a bound page proof is submitted, a bound copy of the book must be received by each committee member postmarked no later than January 7, 2025.

If a book carries a copyright date that is different from the publication date, but the actual publication date falls during the correct timeframe making it eligible, please include a letter of explanation from the publisher with each copy of the book sent to the committee members.

Please mail submissions to the committee members listed below: 

Lawrence Culver, Utah State University
Laura Edwards, Princeton University
Robert Gross, University of Connecticut, retired
Allison Varzally, California State University, Fullerton

Mailing addresses to come.

Past Winners


Intellectual History: Kathryn Gin Lum, Stanford University. Heathen: Religion and Race in American History (Harvard University Press) 

Social History: Laura F. Edwards, Princeton University, Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth- Century United States 


Intellectual History: Emily Klancher Merchant, University of California, Davis, Building the Population Bomb (Oxford University Press)

Social History: Samantha Seeley, University of Richmond, Race, Removal, and the Right to Remain: Migration and the Making of the United States (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press)


Intellectual History: Garrett Felber, University of Mississippi, Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State (The University of North Carolina Press)

Honorable Mention: Nate Holdren, Drake University, Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era (Cambridge University Press)

Social History: Johanna Fernández, Baruch College of the City University of New York, The Young Lords: A Radical History (The University of North Carolina Press)


Intellectual History: Katrina Forrester, Harvard University, In the Shadows of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy (Princeton University Press)

Social History: Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, University of California, Berkeley, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press)

Honorable Mention: Sarah M. S. Pearsall, University of Cambridge, Polygamy: An Early American History (Yale University Press)

Honorable Mention: Sophie White, Notre Dame University, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana(Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press)


Intellectual History: Sarah E. Igo, Vanderbilt University, The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America (Harvard University Press)

Social History: Amy Murrell Taylor, University of Kentucky, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps(The University of North Carolina Press)


Intellectual History: Brittney C. Cooper, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women (University of Illinois Press)

Social History: Tiya Miles, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits (The New Press)


Intellectual History: Susanna L. Blumenthal, University of Minnesota, Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture (Harvard University Press)

Social History: Wendy Warren, Princeton University, New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America (Liveright Publishing Corporation)


Intellectual History: Daniel Immerwahr, Northwestern University, Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development (Harvard University Press)

Social History: Julie M. Weise, University of Oregon, Corazón de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910 (University of North Carolina Press)


Intellectual History: Kyle G. Volk, University of Montana, Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press)

Social History: Cornelia H. Dayton, University of Connecticut, and Sharon V. Salinger, University of California, Irvine, Robert Love’s Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston (University of Pennsylvania Press)


Intellectual History: W. Caleb McDaniel, Rice University, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (LSU Press)

Social History: Alan Taylor, University of Virginia, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)


Intellectual History: Angus Burgin, Johns Hopkins University, The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Great Depression (Harvard University Press)

Social History: Brett Rushforth, College of William & Mary, Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France (The University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)


Intellectual History: Susan J. Pearson, Northwestern University, The Rights of the Defenseless: Protecting Animals and Children in Gilded Age America (The University of Chicago Press)

Social History: Cindy Hahamovitch, College of William & Mary, No Man’s Land: Jamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor (Princeton University Press)


Jefferson Cowie, Cornell University, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (The New Press)

Stephanie McCurry, University of Pennsylvania, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Harvard University Press)


Laura Dassow Walls, University of South Carolina, The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America(The University of Chicago Press)

Seth Rockman, Brown University, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (The Johns Hopkins University Press)

Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Deutsch, The University of California, Santa Cruz, Inventing America’s “Worst” Family: Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael (University of California Press)

Honorable Mention: Martha A. Sandweiss, Princeton University, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin Press)


Vincent Brown, Harvard University, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (Harvard University Press)

Pekka Hämäläinen, University of California, Santa Barbara, The Comanche Empire (Yale University Press)


Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh, The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking)


Scott Reynolds Nelson, College of William & Mary, Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend (Oxford University Press)

Honorable Mention: Joan M. Jensen, New Mexico State University, Calling This Place Home: Women on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1850–1925 (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

Moon-Ho Jung, University of Washington, Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (The Johns Hopkins University Press)

Honorable Mention: Howard Brick, Washington University in Saint Louis, Transcending Capitalism: Visions of a New Society in Modern American Thought (Cornell University Press)


Intellectual History: Elizabeth Borgwardt, University of Utah, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

Social History: Thomas Dublin, State University of New York at Binghamton, and Walter Licht, University of Pennsylvania, The Face of Decline: The Pennsylvania Anthracite Region in the Twentieth Century (Cornell University Press)


Intellectual History: Michael O’Brien, University of Cambridge, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810–1860 (University of North Carolina Press)

Social History: Steven Mintz, University of Houston, Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood (Harvard University Press)


Intellectual History: George M. Marsden, University of Notre Dame, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press)

Social History: Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College, One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West before Lewis and Clark(University of Nebraska Press)

Social History: Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania, A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)


Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Smith College, Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America (Alfred A. Knopf)

David W. Blight, Amherst College, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Harvard University Press)

[This book won both the Curti social and Curti intellectual awards for 2002.]


Kimberly K. Smith, Carleton College, The Dominion of Voice: Riot, Reason, and Romance in Antebellum Politics (University Press of Kansas)


Woody Holton, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)


Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (Yale University Press)


Robert A. Orsi, Thank You, St. Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes (Yale University Press)


Lance Banning, The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic (Cornell University Press)

Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)


George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940 (Basic Books)


Wilfred M. McClay, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (The University of North Carolina Press)


W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930 (University of Illinois Press)


Robert B. Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy (Cornell University Press)


David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (VERSO: The imprint of New Left Books)


John L. Brooke, The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County Massachusetts, 1713–1861(Cambridge University Press

David D. Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgement: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (Alfred A. Knopf Inc.)


James H. Merrell, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors From European Contact Through the Era of Removal (The University of North Carolina Press and The Institute of Early American History and Culture)


Edmund S. Morgan, Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Soverignty in England and America (W.W. Norton & Company)


Jacquelyn Hall, James Leloudis, Robert Korstad, Mary Murphy, Lu Ann Jones and Christopher B. Daly, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (The University of North Carolina Press)

Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700–1750 (Cambridge University Press)


James T. Kloppenberg, Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920(Oxford University Press)


Kerby A. Miller, Emigrants and Exiles (Oxford University Press)


Leo Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Temple University Press)


Dino Cinel, From Italy to San Francisco: The Immigrant Experience (Stanford University Press)


Norman Fiering, Moral Philosphy at Seventeenth-Century Harvard: A Discipline in Transition (The University of North Carolina Press)

Jonathan Edwards, Moral Thought and Its British Context (The University of North Carolina Press)


George Frederickson, White Supremacy (Oxford University Press)


James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (University of North Carolina Press)


Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeepers Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815–1837 (Hill and Wang)

Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826–1860 (Columbia University Press)


Gary Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (Vintage)


Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (Oxford University Press)