The SAH sponsors three prize competitions: the annual Francis Parkman Prize for a nonfiction book in American history that is distinguished by its literary merit; the biennial James Fenimore Cooper Prize for the historical novel on an American theme; and the Allan Nevins Prize for the best-written doctoral dissertation on an American subject.

Jointly with The Roosevelt Institute, the Society also presents the annual Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award for Distinguished Writing in American History of Enduring Public Significance.

The Francis Parkman Prize for Special Achievement was awarded periodically between 1962 and 1994, and the Bruce Catton Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of History was presented biennially from 1984 to 2006.


  • Tony Horwitz Prize

    The Tony Horwitz Prize to honor distinguished work in American history of wide appeal and enduring public significance will be awarded for the first time in 2020.

  • Francis Parkman Prize

    The Francis Parkman Prize is awarded annually to a nonfiction work of history on an American theme published the previous year that is distinguished by its literary merit. The prize, which carries an award of $2000, is named for Francis Parkman, whose monumental work, France and England in North America (7 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1865–92), was widely praised for its literary elegance as well as its historical importance.

  • Allan Nevins Prize

    The Allan Nevins Prize is awarded annually for the best-written doctoral dissertation on a significant subject in American history. The prizewinning work is published by one of the distinguished houses that support the prize: Basic Books; Cambridge University Press; University of Chicago Press; Columbia University Press; Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Hill and Wang; Harvard University Press; Henry Holt; Alfred A. Knopf; W. W. Norton and Company; University of North Carolina Press; Oxford University Press; University of Pennsylvania Press; Princeton University Press; Random House; Simon and Schuster; and Yale University Press. The prize, which carries an award of $2000, is named in honor of the society's founder.

  • Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Prize

    The Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award honored distinguished writing in American history of enduring public significance. In cooperation with the Roosevelt Institute, the society gave this annual award from 2008 to 2017. It was named in honor of Arthur Schlesinger, the late incomparable historian who was a brilliant innovator in giving history a voice in public affairs. 

  • Society of American Historians Prize for Historical Fiction (formerly known as the James Fenimore Cooper Prize)

    The SAH Prize for Historical Fiction is awarded biennially in odd-numbered years for a book of historical fiction on an American subject that makes a significant contribution to historical understanding, portrays authentically the people and events of the historical past, and displays skills in narrative construction and prose style. The prize carries an award of $2000. 

  • Bruce Catton Prize

    The Bruce Catton Prize, 1984-2006, was awarded for lifetime achievement in the writing of history. In cooperation with American Heritage Publishing Company, the society in 1984 initiated the biennial prize that honors an entire body of work. It is named for Bruce Catton, prizewinning historian and first editor of American Heritage magazine. The prize consisted of a certificate and 2,500 dollars.

  • Francis Parkman Prize for Special Achievement

    The Francis Parkman Prize for Special Achievement is periodically given for scholarly and professional distinction. Since its establishment in 1962, the prize has been awarded five times: first to Allan Nevins for his indefatigable passion for the study, writing, and dissemination of history; the second to Samuel Eliot Morison, preeminent scholar and author on naval history; the third to Alfred A. Knopf, founder of the firm known for its excellence in historical publishing; the fourth to Forrest C. Pogue, director of the Marshall Research Library and Foundation, biographer of George C. Marshall, and teacher and author of twentieth-century diplomatic and military history; the fifth award to Walter Lord in "recognition of a lifetime of articulate dedication to American history," author of such classics as A Night to Remember (1955), Day of Infamy (1957), and The Dawn's Early Light (1972).