To Encourage Literary Distinction in the Writing of History and Biography 


The Society of American Historians is delighted to announce the winners of our 2021 prizes.

The Tony Horwitz Prize honoring distinguished work in American history of wide appeal and enduring public significance: Lonnie G. Bunch III, 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Francis Parkman Prize honoring literary merit in the writing of history: Christopher Tomlins for In the Matter of Nat Turner: A Speculative History (Princeton University Press)

The SAH Prize for Historical Fiction: Afia Atakora for Conjure Women (Random House)

The Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize: Brianna Nofil for “Detention Power: Jails, Camps, and the Origins of Immigrant Incarceration, 1900-2002” (Columbia University)

Please visit our SoundCloud page to hear brief remarks by each of our winners and introductions by the jurors. Our News page includes the complete text of today's announcements.

We are also pleased to welcome the following scholars, independent writers, journalists, novelists, and public historians as newly elected Fellows of the Society of American Historians:

Jonathan Alter
Kurt Andersen
Emily Bernard
Daina Ramey Berry
Vincent Brown
Crystal Feimster
David Grann
David Gutierrez
Madeline Hsu
Ibram X. Kendi
Malinda Maynor Lowery
Megan Kate Nelson
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Claire Potter
Claudio Saunt
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Elizabeth Varon
Kevin Young

Andrew Delbanco assumes the presidency of the Society and Annette Gordon-Reed is vice president. Newly elected to the Executive Board are Margot Canaday, Joanne Freeman, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and Geoffrey Ward. A complete list of current board members is available here.


The Society of American Historians (SAH) was founded in 1939 by the journalist and Columbia University historian Allan Nevins and several fellow scholars to promote 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 engaged in furthering these aims.

The Society's membership includes more than 400 academic scholars, public historians, and professional writers working on topics in American history.  Members are elected based on achievement in the vivid and compelling presentation of history and biography in a variety of forms, including books, essays, film, drama, museum exhibitions, and other emerging forms of public communication. The Society recognizes excellence in historical work marked, among other qualities, by clarity, empathy, narrative power, accuracy, and explanatory force.