To Encourage Literary Distinction in the Writing of History and Biography

May 15, 2023, 6 pm: BREAKING NEWS!

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2023 prizes! The complete press release can be found on our News page, and see also our individual winners' pages under Prizes.

The fourth annual Tony Horwitz Prize honoring distinguished work in American history of wide appeal and enduring public significance is awarded to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

The 67th annual Francis Parkman Prize honoring literary merit in the writing of history is given to John Wood Sweet for The Sewing Girl’s Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America (Henry Holt).

The 17th biennial Society of American Historians Prize for Historical Fiction is awarded to Jane Smiley for A Dangerous Business (Alfred A. Knopf).

The 63rd annual Allan Nevins Prize for the best-written doctoral dissertation on a significant subject in American history is awarded to Samantha Payne for “The Last Atlantic Revolution: Reconstruction and the Struggle for Democracy in the Americas, 1861-1912” (Harvard University).


We are also pleased to announce that on May 15, after the announcement of our 2023 prizes,  Philip Deloria takes office as the Society's president, succeeding Annette Gordon-Reed, and Martha A. Sandweiss assumes office as vice president.

Also assuming office on May 15 are newly elected board members Jonathan Alter, Crystal Feimster, Amanda Foreman, Malinda Lowery, Nell Irvin Painter, and Craig Wilder. Elected to a second term are Geraldine Brooks, Peniel Joseph, Hampton Sides, and Christina Snyder. The Society warmly thanks outgoing board members Kevin Baker, Douglas Blackmon, Douglas Brinkley, Martha Jones, and Dan Okrent for their service. A list of the entire board is available here.

And we are happy to welcome nineteen new fellows--scholars, independent writers, journalists, and public historians—who have been elected by the current membership in recognition of the literary merit of their presentation of history:

Bathsheba Demuth
Jim Downs
Marisa Fuentes
Monica M. Martinez
Kate Masur
Jennifer Morgan
Kevin Mumford
Premilla Nadasen
Janice Nimura
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela
Eric Rauchway
George Sanchez
Andrew Sandoval-Strausz
John Stauffer
Rachel Swarns
John Wood Sweet
Ted Widmer
Judy Tzu-Chun Wu
Rosemarie Zagarri

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.