Archives of American Art Graduate Research Essay Prize

The Archives of American Art’s Graduate Research Essay Prize recognizes original research by a graduate student that engages in a substantial, meaningful way with the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The winning essay will present an innovative argument supported by primary sources at the Archives.

With more than 20 million items in its continually growing collections, the Archives is the world’s largest resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and records of the visual arts in the United States. Students may consult original documents by appointment at the Archives’ headquarters in Washington, DC, view more than 2.5 million digital files and interviews online through the Archives’ website, or use the substantial microfilm holdings available through interlibrary loan or an Archives-affiliated research center.


  • $1,000 prize
  • One-year print subscription to the Archives of American Art Journal
  • Your essay forwarded to the editor of the Archives of American Art Journal for peer review and possible publication



  • Essays must be written in English.
  • Essays must be original and not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
  • Essays must be 5,000–7,000 words, inclusive of endnotes, and can contain up to 15 illustrations.
  • The competition is open to students enrolled at the time of submission in a graduate program in art history, visual studies, American studies, or related fields.



Email your all of the following as PDF attachments to

1. Cover sheet with the essay title, author name and contact information, name of academic advisor, department/program, and university (the author should not be identified anywhere else in the submission); please include in this cover letter a brief statement about how you became aware of the prize competition

2. Abstract of no more than 150 words

3. Essay text, double-spaced, with endnotes. Please do not use headers or footers; text and notes should conform to The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition

4. Proposed illustrations, numbered, with complete captions

Submission deadline: August 1, 2018

Please email questions to Essays will be judged by a panel of three scholars of American art including one Archives of American Art staff member. Prize participants will be notified of the outcome of the competition by October 1, 2018.

Past Winners


Triptychs at War: Violet Oakley’s Victory (published in spring 2018 issue of Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 57, no. 1)

By Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, PhD candidate in art history, University of Delaware


“Draw a Straight Line and Follow It (Repeat)”: Walter De Maria’s Cricket Music and Ocean Music, 1964–1968

By Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, PhD candidate in art history, Virginia Commonwealth University


By Christina Weyl, PhD candidate in art history, Rutgers University


By Katherine Jentleson, PhD candidate in art history, Duke University


By Meredith A. Brown, PhD candidate in art history, The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
By Jennifer Stettler Parsons, PhD candidate in art history, University of Virginia