The National Postal Museum sponsors three biennial prizes for scholarship on the history of the postal system in the United States and its territories, and their antecedents. These prizes - the National Postal Museum Awards for Scholarship in Postal History – are designed to encourage scholarship on the history of the American postal system and to raise awareness of the significance of the postal system in American life. Scholarship by graduate students is eligible for a $1,000 award; scholarship by scholars and professionals (faculty members, independent scholars, and public historians) is eligible for a $2,000 award; and public history scholarship presented online is eligible for a $1,000 award.
The awards are intended for scholarship on any topic on the history of the postal system in America to the present time. Though submissions must be historical in character, they can draw on the methods of disciplines other than history. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the American postal system is central to the discussion.
Graduate - $1,000 award
Professional - $2,000 award
Digital public history - $1,000 award
The National Postal Museum will publicize the work of the successful awardees.
Graduate Prize: This prize is for scholarship written or published by graduate students. Submissions can take the form of a journal article, a book chapter, a conference paper, a M.A. thesis, or a doctoral dissertation. Submissions are eligible if they were originally written when the author was a student, even if they were subsequently revised for publication. All submissions must include a signed statement from the author attesting to his or her status at the time when the initial work was completed. Individuals may win the junior prize just once but are eligible to receive the professional prize the next award year or thereafter for a different project.
Professional Prize: This prize is for scholarship published by faculty members, independent scholars, public historians and other non-degree candidates. Submissions may take the form of a journal article, a book chapter, or a book. Professional award winners are not eligible to win in consecutive award years.
Digital Public History Prize: This prize is for a non-commercial interpretative research project, designed primarily for non-academic audiences and presented online and freely available for the general public. Submissions may take the form of one or several of the following: online documentary video, exhibition, multimedia essay, visualization (maps, timelines, etc.), oral histories, podcasts, and/or critical editions of digitized primary source materials.
We advise applicants to ensure that their sites are fully operational once submitted for award consideration. We recommend that applicants submit their best effort and not revise the digital project during the review process.
Restrictions: Submissions must have been published, accepted (in the case of theses and dissertations), or presented (in the case of conference papers), in a four-year period prior to the application deadline. Submissions that do not receive a prize may be re-submitted the following award year if they fall within these restrictions.
What is the significance for our understanding of the American postal system and its role in America's past?
How original and strong is the argument?
How imaginative is its use of primary sources (textual, visual and/or material)?
How effectively does it engage existing scholarship?
How well is it written?
For the digital public history award, we will also be asking: how well is the submission presented to engage a general public? Is the entire site openly and freely available and fully accessible to all members of the public? Be sure to clearly define in the cover letter who constitutes the creative and content team to be considered for the award.
The committee reserves the right not to award any prize during an award year if no submissions are deemed suitable.
Deadline and Submission Procedure
Submissions must be sent via email or Dropbox or postmarked by December 3, 2021. If sending physical submissions, please send four copies to Dr. Smith at the address below. No late entries will be accepted.
In a cover letter, authors must attest that the submission meets the eligibility requirements. Submissions will not be returned.
Send all materials and direct any questions to:
Dr. Susan Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Ave., NE
PO Box 37012, MRC 570
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Decisions will be announced in April.