Allan Nevins (1890–1971), founder and third president of the society.
To Encourage Literary Distinction in the Writing of History and Biography

The Society of American Historians (SAH) was founded in 1939 by Allan Nevins and several fellow historians for the purpose of promoting literary distinction in the writing of history and biography. Under a charter of incorporation issued by the State of New York, the society has continued to promote its original objective in a variety of ways: through the awarding of prizes, the promotion of historical studies and interests, and cooperation with publishers and other institutions which are engaged in furthering these aims.

The Society combines in its membership academic historians and professional writers working in many different genres on topics that deal in whole or in part with American history. Members may be scholars, journalists, essayists, biographers, novelists, documentarians, playwrights, poets, or filmmakers. Their selection is based on a demonstrated commitment to literary distinction in the writing and  presentation of history and biography. Literary excellence in historical  work is marked by vividness, clarity, empathy, narrative power, and explanatory force.

Recent Announcements

The 56th Annual Francis Parkman Prize, the 11th biennial James Fenimore Cooper Prize, the 53rd Annual Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize, and the 6th annual Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award were presented at the Society's annual meeting on 20 May 2013 in New York City.
See the Prizes section >>