AHA Prizes Policy (updated 2021)

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; amended June 2, 2013; amended January 7, 2016; last amended June 8, 2019.

  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 discipline, allowing provision to support research grants or fellowships for graduate students and early career scholars in the prize field, in the event that its endowment eventually generates sufficient funds to exceed the maximum amount for a single prize (currently $1,500).
  3. New prizes can be initiated only if the fund supporting them is at least $50,000.
  4. The donor(s) may select the name of the prize being funded, so long as Council approval is granted. Factors that might be considered by the Council in determining the appropriateness of a name include:
    1. Consistency with the mission, vision, reputation, and values of the Association
    2. Whether a name might imply the Association's endorsement of a political or ideological position or the use of a particular product or service
    3. Potential conflict of interest
    4. Potential conflict with existing named entities.
    5. For prizes named after historians or public figures, the Association will recognize individuals who have attained personal or professional distinction and who have made a significant contribution to the discipline and/or the Association. That individual must have emeritus status or a comparable marker of advanced standing in the field, or the individual must be deceased.
    6. All recognized individuals or institutions should meet the standards of integrity articulated in the AHA's Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct and Code of Professional Conduct at Officially Sanctioned AHA Activities.
    Under extraordinary circumstances when the continued use of the name would compromise public trust and reflect adversely upon the Association, the AHA reserves the right to rename the gift fund or prize. Normally the AHA would consult with the donor if possible.
  5. The Association will charge to each prize fund an amount to cover reasonable direct and indirect costs.  Costs are calculated in the amount of 20 percent of the value of the prize.
  6. Prizes and awards should be conferred on only one individual or group, and there will be no honorable mentions, except in the case of the Asher Teaching Award.
  7. Only living persons are eligible for awards to recognize scholarly or professional 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 prizes for publications, including the O'Connor Film Award, are governed by the period of publication of the book, article, website, or film.
  8. Prizes will not be awarded to individuals who have violated the Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct of the AHA and are subject to revocation if a violation of such standards is discovered after the prize has been awarded.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Prize 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 of committee members will be staggered.
  13. Prizes and awards will be announced at the AHA annual meeting.  The citations for all prizes will be published in Perspectives on History.
  14. 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 sufficient funds.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 will take place in spring 2022.)