Department of History

History Department Essay Contests

The Department of History offers several monetary prizes for the best undergraduate essays in World History, European History, the American Civil War, and U.S. Political and Diplomatic history. Developing an award-winning essay is an excellent learning experience and will strengthen a resume or an application to graduate or professional school.

World History Essay Prize ($500)
Any IU undergraduate may submit an essay of any length on any topic in the history of any part of the world except the U.S. and western Europe.

European History Prize ($200)
Any IU undergraduate may submit a paper of 15 pages or less (exclusive of notes and bibliography), on any topic in European History.

William M. Locke Prize ($400)
Any IU undergraduate may submit a paper of 15 pages or less (exclusive of notes and bibliography), on a topic related to the American Civil War.

John W. Foster Prize ($200)
Any IU undergraduate may submit a paper of 15 pages or less (exclusive of notes and bibliography), relating to the political and diplomatic history of the United States.

M. Jeanne Peterson Prize ($200)
Any IU undergraduate may submit an essay of any length on any topic in any geo-temporal period concerning: women’s history, the history of gender, or the history of sexuality.

Some suggestions for students submitting essays for the competitions:
While you probably will want to submit an essay you wrote for a class you took (and this is fine), you should keep in mind that even an outstanding essay written to satisfy the requirements of a specific assignment may not make a good submission without some revision. When an essay is a response to an assignment, the author can often choose to omit information that might be required in a more general essay. However, the readers for the contest will expect to see an essay that is entirely self-contained, that is, that contains within it all the information an intelligent reader would need to know to understand the point of the essay. So you will probably need to revise your essay to make it suitable. Ask yourself these questions as you revise:

Does my essay have a real thesis (a position I am arguing for or defending) or is it simply a narrative?
An essay that is essentially descriptive will probably not be as strong a competitor as an essay that presents a point of view about the past.

Is my essay focused?
An essay which has a tight focus is likely to be more effective and persuasive than an essay that ranges far and wide.

Are my sources properly cited?
Sometimes in a classroom essay, you are only required to cite works by the author’s last name and page number; for this contest all works need a full and proper citation, whether you choose parenthetical citation with a “Works Cited” list at the end or footnotes and endnotes. For more information about citing sources and the Chicago Manual of Style, visit Research and Writing for History J300 & J400.

Have I corrected all of the grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors in this essay?
An essay containing spelling and grammatical errors is simply not impressive; it does not convince the readers that you have any authority and such sloppiness irritates educated readers.

Submission Instructions

Qualified undergraduates may submit no more than one essay per prize. Essays should be typed in 12-point type, and the text should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins. Papers can be submitted at any time before the deadline of March 25, 2016. Submissions should be emailed to histdus@indiana.edu. They should include a Word document version of the paper, and the following information in the body of the email:
  • Student name
  • Paper title
  • Title of prize for which essay is being submitted
  • Course for which the essay was written
  • Semester in which the essay was written
  • Your academic year or graduation status
  • Email address (if it will be different in spring 2016)