Grants & Prizes

David Montgomery Award

The David Montgomery Award is given annually by the OAH with co-sponsorship by the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) for the best book on a topic in American labor and working-class history. Eligible works shall be written in English and deal with United States history in significant ways but may include comparative or transnational studies that fall within these guidelines. The award is given in recognition of David Montgomery’s crucial role in pioneering new approaches to the study of working people and their history. David Montgomery was president of the OAH 1999-2000.

2015 Prize

Winner: Chantal Norrgard, Seasons of Change: Labor, Treaty Rights, and Ojibwe Nationhood (University of North Carolina Press)

Past Winners

  • 2014 2014 Stacey L. Smith, Oregon State University, Freedom’s Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation, and Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press)

Herbert G. Gutman Prize for Outstanding Dissertation

The Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) is pleased to announce its annual Herbert Gutman Dissertation Prize, established with the cooperation with the University of Illinois Press. LAWCHA, founded in 1998, encourages the study of working-class men and women, their lives, workplaces, communities, organizations, cultures, activism, and societal contexts. It aims to promote an international, theoretically informed, comparative, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and diverse labor and working-class history.

The dissertation prize is named in honor of the late Herbert G. Gutman, a pioneering labor historian in the U.S. and a founder of the University of Illinois Press’s “Working Class in American History” Series. LAWCHA hopes that the spirit of Gutman’s inquiry into the many facets of labor and working-class history will live on through this prize. The winner will receive a cash prize of $500 from LAWCHA along with up to $500 in travel expenses to attend the awards ceremony, and a publishing contract with the University of Illinois Press. The prize award is contingent upon the author’s acceptance of the contract with the University of Illinois Press.

Eligible dissertations must be in English, concerned with U.S. labor and working-class history broadly conceived, and defended in the academic year 2014-15 (September 1, 2014-August 31, 2015). Applicants are not required to be members of LAWCHA at the time of the submission. The winner will be announced at our national conference.

To apply for the Gutman Prize, email the title of your dissertation, the date of your defense, the name of your advisor, and a PDF copy of the dissertation; and mail (3) three hard copies of the dissertation and a letter of endorsement from the dissertation advisor stating the date of the defense by January 3rd, 2016 to:

226 Carr Building (East Campus)
Duke University
Box 90719
Durham, NC 27708

2014 Prize

Winner: Jessica Wilkerson, “Where Movements Meet: From the War on Poverty to Grassroots Feminism in the Appalachian South” (UNC-Chapel Hill, 2014)
Advisor: Jacquelyn Dowd Hall

2014 Committee: Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia, Chair; Jacob Remes, SUNY Empire State College; Jarrod Roll, University of Mississippi.

Past Winners

  • 2013 Winner: Vilja Hulden for her 2011 University of Arizona dissertation, “Employers, Unite! Organized Employer Reactions to the Labor Union Challenge in the Progressive Era.” Advisor: David Gibbs.
  • 2012 Winner: Marjorie Elizabeth Wood for her 2011 University of Chicago dissertation, “Emancipating the Child Laborer: Children, Freedom, and the Moral Boundaries of the Market in the United States, 1853-1938.” Advisor: Thomas Holt.
  • 2011 Winner: Jacob Remes, “Cities of Comrades: Urban Disasters and the Formation of the North American Progressive State.” (Duke University, Advisor: Gunther Peck)
  • 2010 Winner: Jessie B. Ramey, “A Childcare Crisis: Poor Black and White Families and Orphanages in Pittsburgh, 1878-1929” (Carnegie-Mellon University, Advisor: Tera W. Hunter)

  • 2009 Winner: Michael Rosenow, “Injuries to All: The Rituals of Dying and the Politics of Death among United States Workers, 1877-1910” (University of Illinois, Advisor: James R. Barrett)
  • 2008 Winner: Jarod Roll, “Road to the Promised Land: Rural Rebellion in the New Cotton South, 1890-1945” (Northwestern University, Advisor: Nancy Maclean)

Philip Taft Labor History Book Award  

2015 Award Recipient: Sven Beckert

The Philip Taft Prize in Labor and Working-Class History has now completed its seventh year as a joint committee of LAWCHA and the Cornell ILR School and its 37th year as an award. The Taft Prize Committee this year consisted of Jefferson Cowie (Chair, Cornell), Ileen DeVault (Cornell), Thavolia Glymph (Duke), Seth Rockman (Brown), and Dorothy Sue Cobble (Rutgers).

The unanimous selection of the Taft Prize committee for 2015 was Sven Beckert (Harvard), Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Knopf). The committee found the book to be a major work with immense range that will help to define and expand the field of labor history. Empirically rich and exhaustively researched, Beckert successfully places the history of slaves, millworkers, and share croppers into the broad terrain of the history of capitalism as it was shaped by the demand for one of its most important and lucrative commodities, cotton. Linking Indian weavers to African slavery to American plantations to European consumers, Beckert masterfully bridges the global transformations of the cotton economy with local history. Taking his story through the twentieth century, Beckert shows the importance of making labor history central to the history of capitalism.

For information on nominations for the 2016 Prize, please visit the Taft Award website. <>

For a list of past winners, see the ILR Website about the Taft Prize Past Winners.