John E. O'Connor Film Award

In recognition of his exceptional role as a pioneer in both teaching and research regarding film and history, the American Historical Association has established this award in honor of John E. O’Connor, New Jersey Institute of Technology. The honorific award seeks to recognize outstanding interpretations of history through the medium of film or video. This award is presented in the form of a certificate. See the list of past recipients.

Films and videos (including web-based) are eligible for the award. A prize may be awarded in each of two categories: dramatic feature and documentary.

Nominated films and videos will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Stimulation of Thought: The production should arouse interest in the past and encourage viewers to ask questions about historical interpretations.
  2. Imaginative Use of the Media: The production should provide a unique perspective on the past through compelling use of aural and visual techniques and narrative structure. Successful nominees may take a wide variety of approaches to the past, including innovative presentational approaches beyond the traditional linear narrative.
  3. Effective Presentation of Historical Subject: The production should communicate its subject in ways that engage and enlighten viewers and encourage them to seek additional insights through reading and other media. It should be informed by trends in recent historical scholarship and make a contribution, in its own right, to the public’s understanding of and appreciation for history.

Nominating Procedures

  1. AHA members will nominate films and videos through AHA Communities by May 15. The committee may also seek nominations or receive nominations from filmmakers. In order to advance to the competition, all nominated films and videos must receive at least one additional endorsement from an AHA member, including members of the prize committee.
  2. To be eligible, films or videos must be in English or have English-language subtitles or dubbing. Films and videos must have been copyrighted or first screened or broadcast during the year of eligibility.
  3. Films and videos, or series of films and videos, should be no longer than feature length.
  4. Filmmakers submitting nominations must submit one copy of each entry in DVD format to each of the following committee members. In the case of web-based videos with free public access, functioning URLs must be provided to prize committee members. To consider a member-nominated film, the review committee must be able to obtain a screening copy.
  5. Entries will not be returned.
  6. As stated in the AHA prize policy, review committee members reserve the right not to offer an award.
  7. Award winners will be screened at the AHA's annual meeting, if appropriate permissions can be obtained. One person associated with each winning film will be invited to host the screening.

Review committee contact information for the next prize year will be posted by March 31.