Named in memory of Joan Kelly, this prize is awarded annually for the book in women’s history and/or feminist theory that best reflects the high intellectual and scholarly ideals exemplified by the life and work of Joan Kelly (1928–82). The prize was established by the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession and the Conference Group on Women’s History in 1983, to be administered by the American Historical Association and carries a cash award of $1,000.
Submissions can deal with any chronological period, any geographical location, or any area of feminist theory that incorporates a historical perspective. Books should demonstrate originality of research, creativity of insight, graceful stylistic presentation, skillful use of analysis, and a recognition of the important role of sex and gender in the historical process. The interrelationship between women and the historical process should be addressed.
AHA Joan Kelly Memorial Prize submission information & form
Donations by CCWH members and other patrons support the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize. To make a one-time or recurring monthly donation to any of of the Awards by credit or debit card, please fill out our secure online Awards Donation Form.
Or donate by check made payable to the CCWH and sent to our Treasurer: Pamela Stewart, PhD, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Arizona State University, 455 N. 3rd St Suite 380 Phoenix, AZ 85004-1601.
The Coordinating Council on Women in History is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Coordinating Council on Women in History is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations to the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize are tax-deductible.
2018 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize Award Winner
Tera Hunter, Princeton University
Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Belknap Press)
Bound in Wedlock is the first comprehensive history of African American marriage in the nineteenth century. Uncovering the experiences of African American spouses in plantation records, legal and court documents, and pension files, Tera W. Hunter reveals the myriad ways couples adopted, adapted, revised, and rejected white Christian ideas of marriage. Setting their own standards for conjugal relationships, enslaved husbands and wives were creative and, of necessity, practical in starting and supporting families under conditions of uncertainty and cruelty.
Previous Joan Kelly Memorial Prize Recipients
2017 – Sarah Haley, UCLA
No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (Univ. of North Carolina Press)
Drawing upon black feminist criticism and a diverse array of archival materials, Sarah Haley uncovers imprisoned women’s brutalization in local, county, and state convict labor systems, while also illuminating the prisoners’ acts of resistance and sabotage, challenging ideologies of racial capitalism and patriarchy and offering alternative conceptions of social and political life. A landmark history of black women’s imprisonment in the South, this book recovers stories of the captivity and punishment of black women to demonstrate how the system of incarceration was crucial to organizing the logics of gender and race, and constructing Jim Crow modernity.
2016 – Keely Stauter-Halsted, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
The Devil’s Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland (Cornell Univ. Press)
The Devil’s Chain is the first book to examine the world of commercial sex throughout the partitioned Polish territories, uncovering a previously hidden conversation about sexuality, gender propriety, and social class. Keely Stauter-Halsted situates the preoccupation with prostitution in the context of Poland’s struggle for political independence and its difficult transition to modernity.
2015 – Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University
The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565–1830 (Univ. of Chicago Press)
The Sexuality of History provides a new analysis of the specter of women loving women contained in the publications of both male and female authors, arguing that “the Sapphic” underwrote early modern understandings of “the modern.” Lanser shows that rather than voicing individuals’ idiosyncratic desires, texts that invoked the intimate connections among women enabled critiques of the patriarchal order and supported radical visions of both equality and the normative presence of women in the public sphere.
2014 – Afsaneh Najmabadi, Harvard University
Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same Sex-Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke Univ. Press, 2013)
Afsaneh Najmabadi skillfully combines analysis of historical texts and life stories with ethnographic observation of meetings among medical professionals, government officials, and prospective patients for sex reassignment surgery to trace the complex genealogies of homosexuality and transsexuality in Iran from the mid-twentieth century. Exploring how non-normatively gendered Iranians drew from both local and global discourses to narrate their experiences and influence policy, her multilayered account illuminates the spaces for agency within a discriminatory state biopolitics.
2013 – Carol Pal, Republic of Women: Rethinking the Republic of Letters in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge University Press)
2012 – Gail Brook Hershatter, Gender of Memory: Rural Women in China’s Collective Past (University of California Press)
2012 – Ruth Mazo Karras, Unmarriages: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in Medieval Europe (University of Pennsylvania Press)
2011 – Leslie J. Reagan, Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America (Univ. of California Press)
2010 – Susan E. Klepp, Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Inst. of Early American History and Culture)
2009 – Peggy Pascoe, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America (Oxford University Press)
Please visit AHA – Joan Kelly Memorial Prize for Women’s History for more information.