The department awards prizes to its best honors students majoring in History. The top prizes include the Harold Poor Memorial Prize, the Ceil Parker Lawson Memorial Prize, the Margaret Atwood Judson Prize, and the James Reed Award.


 Previous History Prize Winners


Ceil Parker Lawson Memorial Prize

The Ceil Parker Lawson Memorial Prize is awarded annually to a graduating senior who has the highest grade point average in all of their History courses.

Ceil Parker Lawson was a housewife who lived in a Bronx apartment with her husband, Murray, her two children, Lona and Steven, and her parents, Abraham and Sara. She only had a high school education, graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, but she inspired her son to pursue his education to the highest level he could achieve. She created a household environment that supported learning.  Even more, she was a warm and wise human being who had many friends among her neighbors on Morris and Townsend Avenues, and many of them came to her often for counsel and laughter. She had a terrific sense of humor, which she needed to get through the various illnesses she had during her short life. Ceil Parker Lawson died in 1962 at the age of fifty from cancer.  The words on her tombstone sum up the quality of her life and legacy:  "Her memory is a heritage of love."

In 2003, Professors Steven Lawson and Nancy Hewitt provided the funds for an endowed prize in memory of Lawson's mother, Ceil Parker Lawson.  At the time, Professor Lawson was Vice-Chair for Undergraduate Education in the History Department and director of its honors program. As a scholar of twentieth-century U.S. History, Lawson created the prize to recognize outstanding students studying History. 


2023 Prize Winner:

  • Samuel Lurie, History & Jewish Studies double major, class of 2023



Dr. Martin Siegel Prize in History

The Dr. Martin Siegel Prize was established in honor of Dr. Martin Siegel who was a History major at Rutgers University. Throughout his life he spoke of how much his education at Rutgers University was a transforming experience, allowing a boy from a constricted background on a poultry farm in South Jersey to become a sophisticated thinker and man of the world. Although he entered Rutgers in 1945 as an Engineering student, his heart was elsewhere -- in foreign films, theatre, music, and the great game of being a university student, actively participating in a new universe of ideas and cultural interests.

After his graduation in 1949 he went on to earn a M.A. and Ph.D. in European Intellectual History at Columbia University. He became a professor at Kean University for 40 years. He led classes in the History of both France and Russia; but the course he loved to teach above all others was the Senior Research Seminar. Therefore, this prize is awarded to that undergraduate Junior or Senior majoring in History who is judged to have prepared the best research project in the History Seminar course.


2023 Prize Winner:

  • David Ogilvie, History major, Class of 2023



Edward McNall Burns Award in History

The Edward McNall Burns Award in History is given to a non-traditional undergraduate student who graduates with the highest academic record in the field of History in the School of Arts and Sciences.


2023 Prize Winner:

  • Jens Knutsen, History Major, Class of 2023



Edward Romano Memorial Award

The Edward Romano Memorial Award in History and Public Service is awarded to a student who combines a passion for historical study with a commitment to activism and public service.

On September 20th, 2015 the Department of History was devastated to learn of the unexpected passing of Edward Romano.  Just 21 years old, Edward was a History and Political Science double major and an honors student.  At the time of his death, he was in the process of writing a groundbreaking honors thesis on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, the dominant force in New Jersey politics in the nineteenth century.  Edward was at the heart of our undergraduate program—he was a student in many of our classes, headed the History Club, and spent three years working in the History Department office as a work study student. Other students looked to him for advice on the major and on navigating their way through Rutgers University.  He made the department a warm, fun, and thought provoking place to be.

Edward was a leader and a community builder and he was well known for his interest in democratic politics and his leadership of the Rutgers University Democrats. He was an intern with the Middlesex County Democratic Organization and had served on the Barbara Buono campaign for governor.  He intended to apply to law school and was poised to take the LSATs the weekend after his passing.


2023 Prize Winner:

  • Katherine Silva Sedana



Harold L. Poor Memorial Fund Undergraduate History Prize

The Harold Poor Prize is awarded annually to the best, second best, and third best honors theses overall in the History Department. The department, with the support of Professor Philip Greven, established the Prize in the early 1990s, and it has been given every year since.

Harold Poor came to the Rutgers College History Department in 1966 where he continued to teach and administer until his premature retirement in 1991 on disability because of AIDS. He died on January 24, 1992. He was one of the most gifted and charismatic teachers in the History Department. His courses ranged widely over German and European history. He pioneered in the teaching of gay history with his course on "History and the Homosexual" in the fall of 1984. For the History Department, Harold served as Undergraduate Chairperson from 1989 to 1991 and was the Director of the Rutgers Junior Year Abroad Program in Germany from 1985 to 1987.


2023 Prize Winners:

  • First Place – Reuven Weintraub
  • Second Place – Robert Proko
  • Third Place - Richard DiFalco 



Helen Praeger Miller Prize

The Helen Praeger Miller Prize is awarded by the Douglass Associate Alumnae to the most outstanding History major who is a member of the Douglass Residential College.


2023 Prize Winner:

  •  Gillian Carmien, History Major, Class of 2023



Henry Rutgers Scholars Award

The Henry Rutgers Scholars Award is given to the best senior honors work in any discipline in the School of Arts and Sciences.


2022 Prize Winner:

  • Samuel Kao - History, "No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: The Struggle Over Public Universities in the Postwar Era"



James Reed Award

The James Reed Award is given to the student with the best honors thesis presentation at the Rutgers History Honors Conference.

This awards is in honor of Professor James Reed, one of our most outstanding teachers at Rutgers University since he joined the faculty at Rutgers College in 1975. His legendary ability to “sing” American History has been inspiring Rutgers undergraduates for almost five decades. It is only fitting that the most outstanding presentation at the History Honors Conference should be recognized by the History faculty with the James Reed prize.


2023 Prize Winner:

  • Elijah Hanebury



Joseph B. Bradley Memorial Award

The Joseph B. Bradley Memorial Award is awarded to a graduating senior who has studied Ancient or Medieval History and has exhibited exceptional work in this area.


2023 Prize Winner:

  •  Richard DiFalco


Margaret Atwood Judson Prize

The Margaret Atwood Judson Prize is awarded to the best honors thesis written by a woman. Born in 1899 Margaret Atwood Judson received her Ph.D. from Radcliffe College in 1933. She joined the History Department at Douglass College in 1928 and went on to chair the History and Political Science departments at Douglass and to serve as acting dean of Douglass College. She was a widely-respected scholar who wrote on English constitutional thought.

Long before the second-wave women’s movement of the 1960s, Margaret Atwood Judson was pushing through boundaries and limitations on women’s lives and showing that women could excel at the highest level of professional scholarship, administration and college teaching.


2023 Prize Winner:

  • Claire Apel



Maurice Dupont Lee Jr. Fellowship in History


2022 Prize Winner:

  • Katherine Little - History Major, Class of 2022



Society of Colonial Wars Prize

The Society of Colonial Wars Prize is awarded to a History major who has written the best essay on Early American History.


This prize was not awarded in 2023.