John Lewis Award for Public Service to the Discipline of History

Rep. John LewisEstablished in 2021, the prize is offered annually to recognize individuals outside the ranks of professional historians who have made a significant contribution to the study, teaching, and public understanding of history, in the interest of social justice. The prize is named in memory of John Lewis (1940–2020), the civil rights leader who represented Georgia with grace and distinction in the United States House of Representatives for 34 years. All of us, insisted Lewis, must “study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.” The prize was established with an endowment gift from the Agentives Fund and replaces the Association’s Roosevelt-Wilson Award for Public Service, which was presented to Congressman Lewis in 2006.

The current prize amount is $1,000. See the list of past recipients.

According to the selection criteria, recipients can be individuals or collaborative groups. They may include persons who have made a significant contribution to the support and encouragement of history through their actions. Such noteworthy activity may include advocacy for historical work and the importance of history to public culture and social justice, philanthropy, support for organizations that promote history in public life, historic preservation, or other work that cultivates public awareness of history and its value to public culture.

The executive director and the AHA president will serve as the jury and will recommend nominees to the AHA Council. The AHA Council will make the final selection of the honoree(s) at its June meeting. The recipients will be announced at the Association’s annual meeting.