The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History awards five prizes for outstanding work in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and queer history; prize descriptions are below. Calls for prizes are announced in the early summer of each year; submissions are due to prize committee members in the fall. The prizes are awarded each year in early January at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. The Boswell and Nestle Prizes are awarded in January of odd-numbered years for work published or written in the prior two years. The Bérubé, Lorde, and Sprague Prizes are awarded in January of even-numbered years for work produced, published, or written in the prior two years. Each prize comes with an award of $200 (divided in the case of co-winners). The CLGBTH funds the prizes, with the exception of the Bérubé Prize, which is underwritten by the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.

The John Boswell Prize for an outstanding book on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English. (Odd-numbered years, covering previous two years.)

The Joan Nestle Prize for an outstanding paper on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history completed in English by an undergraduate student. (Odd-numbered years, covering previous two years.) The undergraduate paper prize is funded through a special fund established by CLGBTH’s lifetime members.

The Gregory Sprague Prize for an outstanding published or unpublished paper, article, book chapter, or dissertation chapter on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history completed in English by a graduate student. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.)

The Audre Lorde Prize for an outstanding article on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.)

The Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public or community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer history. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.) The Bérubé Prize is underwritten by the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, CA.

Click here for information on current calls for submissions for these prizes.

Recent Winners

Audre Lorde Prize

WINNER: Emily Skidmore, “Ralph Kerwineo’s Queer Body: Narrating the Scales of Social Membership in the Early Twentieth Century.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 20, no. 1-2 (2014): 141-166.

Emily Skidmore’s highly original, well-written, and nuanced article examines the life and media portrayal of Ralph Kerwineo, a Wisconsin man (named Cora Anderson at birth) who was put on trial for disorderly conduct when his “true sex” was discovered in the 1910s. Skidmore sensitively examines the intertwined stakes of Kerwineo’s queer embodiment, his marriage, and his racial identification (although of African American and Native American descent, he claimed alternately to be Spanish or Bolivian) exploring more broadly how conceptions of citizenship shaped perceptions and practices of masculinity and the possibilities of everyday life. Most uniquely, Skidmore carefully compares discussion of Kerwineo in both the local and national press—revealing how local discourses stressing Kerwineo’s productivity clashed with coverage in larger newspapers like the Washington Post, which took Kerwineo’s supposed sexual and social deviance for granted. The essay, which appeared in a special GLQ issue on the Midwest, makes a major contribution in queer and trans history, not only in revealing stories and lives beyond big cities, but in encouraging scholars to reconsider how the geography of ideas shapes what Regina Kunzel has called the “uneven” history of sexuality and gender in the twentieth century U.S.

HONORABLE MENTION: Alison Lefkovitz, “‘The Peculiar Anomaly’: Same-Sex Infidelity in Postwar Divorce Courts.” Law and History Review.

HONORABLE MENTION: Christopher Phelps, “The Closet in the Party: The Young Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Workers Party, and Homosexuality, 1962 – 1970” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas.

Gregory Sprague Prize

WINNER: Abram Lewis, “We Are Certain of Our Own Insanity”: Anti-psychiatry and the Gay Liberation Movement, 1968–1980.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 25, No. 1 (January 2016): 83-113.

This essay examines LGBT activism surrounding the American Psychiatric Association’s declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973. While this decision has been celebrated as a critical victory for LGBT rights, Lewis details a significantly more complex narrative. The declassification movement, strongly rooted in homophile politics, found opposition among progressive gays and lesbians who celebrated madness instead. Linking deviance and insanity with non-normative sexualities empowered a rejection of minority identity politics and a profession encouraging assimilation into an oppressive society. Reading gay liberationist, lesbian feminist, and French intellectual texts, the author reveals this parallel movement as a significant moment of coalitional politics. LGBT activists built upon and joined with feminist, antiracist, anticapitalist, and disability rights activists to celebrate disorder as a site of political possibility. Lewis supports this intervention in queer history with insightful analysis of the implications of the declassification campaign, arguing that the subsequent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Model of Mental Disorders aided the psychiatric profession in reasserting their scientific authority and expanding diagnoses of gender and sexual deviance. The committee was impressed by the article’s contribution to queer history and the history of medicine as well as to feminist and disability studies.

HONORABLE MENTIONAlessio Ponzio, “From Uomini to Omosessuali. The Homosexualization of the Marchettari in the Italian Popular Discourse (1952-65).”

Allan Bérubé Prize:

WINNER: Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | February 19 to May 3, 2015

Curated by Jennifer Tyburczy

While the art world has increasingly recognized the value of queer works, major museums continue to exclude queer artists. In this powerful exhibit Jennifer Tyburczy positions sex – queer, dissident, and explicit – as central in her celebration of artists such as Alma López, Zanele Muholi, David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibit frames censorship as producing knowledge rather than silencing queer creativity, in its bold display of how queer art, despite tremendous opposition, has refused to remain in the closet.

HONORABLE MENTION: Publicly Identified: Coming Out Activist in the Queen City

Levine Museum of the New South | 2014 to 2015

Curated by Joshua Burford

Publicly Identified chronicles the history of the LGBT community of Charlotte, NC from the late 1940s to the 2010s. Joshua Burford involved community organizations and initiated an oral history project to create an interactive timeline with an accompanying online presence. The exhibit boosted museum attendance by 16% and initiated the King-Henry-Brockington Collection of queer material at University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as a regional historical preservation project called Queer History South.

Prize committees

2016: Lorde/Sprague Committee: James Green*, Chelsea del Rio, Stephen Vider; Bérubé Committee: Amy Sueyoshi*, Mark Bowman, Victor Salvo.
2015: Estelle Freedman*, T.J. Tallie, Mir Yarfitz
2014: Lorde/Sprague Committee: Kevin Mumford*, Emily K. Hobson, Anita Kurimay; Bérubé Committee: Jill Austin*, JD Doyle, Maria-Anna Tesliou
2013: Margot Canaday*, Cookie Woolner, Ben Cowan
2012: Sprague and Lorde: Thomas A. Foster*, Julio Cesar Capo, Claire Potter; Bérubé Committee: Kevin P. Murphy*, Marcia Gallo, Lauren Jae Gutterman, Joey Plaster
2011: Ellen Herman*, Chris Waters, Stephanie Gilmore
2010: Marc Stein*, Nicholas Syrett, Ellen Zitani
2009: John D’Emilio*, Amy Sueyoshi, Red Vaughan Tremmel
2008: Moshe Sluhovsky*, Christolyn Williams, Phil Tiemeyer
2007: Ramon Gutierrez*, Jennifer Evans, Daniel Rivers
2006: Vicki Eaklor*, Nan Alamilla Boyd, Don Romesburg
2005: John Howard*, Margaret McFadden, Pablo Ben
2004: Margaret Hunt*, Anne Rubenstein, Tim Retzloff
2003: John D’Emilio*, Lori Ginzberg, Robert Frame
2002: Chuck Middleton*, Margot Canaday, David Serlin
2001: Michael Sibalis*, Leisa Meyer, Christopher Capozzola
2000: Ellen Herman*, James Green, Victoria Thompson
1999: Allida Black, Bill Drummond, Terence Kissack
1998: John Fout, John Howard, Nancy Unger
1997: Linda Heidenreich, Leila Rupp, Michael Sherry
1996: Barry Adam, Leisa Meyer, Randolph Trumbach
1995: Vicki Eaklor, James Steakley, Marc Stein
1994: Steven Maynard, Eugene Rice, Leila Rupp

* chair