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.

In its membership of nearly 400 the Society combines 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 2014 prizewinnerss were honored on May 19 at the annual SAH dinner at The Cornell Club in Manhattan:

James M. McPherson received the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award for Distinguished Writing in American History of Enduring Public Significance

Philip Shenon was given the Francis Parkman Prize for A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Henry Holt)

Nora Doyle was awarded the Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize for "Bodies at Odds: The Maternal Body as Lived Experience and Cultural Expression in America, 1750-1850 (UNC-Chapel Hill)

For further information see the News and Announcements page