The MHA presents five awards annually: the Jon Gjerde Prize for the best book on Midwestern regional topics; the Dorothy Schweider Prize for the best scholarly article on the Midwest; the Frederick Jackson Turner Award for professional contributions to advance the study of the Midwest; the Alice Smith Prize for the best scholarly book that increases public awareness of and reflection upon the Midwest; and the Hamlin Garland Prize on the best popular book that increases public awareness of and reflection upon the Midwest.

Jon Gjerde Prize

2016 Winner: Jason Weems, Barnstorming the Prairies: How Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest (Minneapolis: Univerisity of Minnesota Press, 2015).

The Jon Gjerde Prize is awarded to the best book in Midwestern History published in the previous calendar year. The committee seeks books that focus on the Midwest as a region and will give preference to books that look beyond a single state, but welcomes, too, books that take up regional themes. Books which are oriented toward the Midwest as a region are especially welcome and all historical topics are welcome.


Dorothy Schwieder Prize

2015 Winner: Doug Kiel, "Untaming the Wild Frontier: In Search of New Midwestern Histories" in Middle West Review 1:1 (Fall 2014). The prize committee also awarded an honorable mention to Dr. Kathryn Anne Schumaker for her essay "Investing in Segregation: The Long Struggle for Racial Equity in Cairo, Illinois Public Schools" in Ohio Valley History 14:3 (Fall 2014).

The Dorothy Schwieder Prize is awarded to the best article in midwestern history published during the calendar year. All articles on midwestern history were published in peer-reviewed journals are eligible for the prize. For this purpose, “the Midwest” includes the twelve states of the region as defined by the US Census: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Past winners:

2014: Tiya Miles, “’Shall Woman’s Voice Be Hushed?’: Laura Smith Haviland in Abolitionist Women’s History,” Michigan Historical Review 39:2 (Fall 2013).


Frederick Jackson Turner Award

2016 Winer: James H. Madison, Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

The Frederick Jackson Turner Award for Lifetime Achievement in Midwestern History is an annual award, given to senior scholars and/or public historians.  It is intended to honor historians whose work carries forth Turner’s interest and influence upon the practice of Midwestern history across multiple professional dimensions. The individual receiving this award should have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the promotion of the history of the Midwest

Past Winners:

2015: John E. Miller

2014: Margaret Beattie Bogue


Alice Smith Prize

The Alice Smith Prize in Public History is named after the director of research at the Wisconsin Historical Society from 1947 to 1965 who authored six books and numerous articles on the state's history, the prize honors a public history project completed in the previous calendar year that contributes to broader public reflection and appreciation of the region’s past. For purposes of the award, “the Midwest” includes the twelve states of the region as defined by the US Census: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Projects by individuals, groups, community organizations, businesses, or other organizations or work done in support of such projects may be nominated. Projects may include, but are not limited to the following areas: Media, Exhibits, Public Programs or Written Works (such as research reports, brochures, working papers, or historical fiction) that broaden public history understanding. Non-fiction books and journal articles are not eligible for this award.

Past winners:

2015: Kirsten Delegard and Michael Lansing, Augsburg College, "Historyapolis."


Hamlin Garland Prize

2016 Winner: Jeffrey T. Manuel, Taconite Dreams: The Struggle to Sustain Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, 1915-2000, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Manuel, a Minnesota native, is an Associate Professor of History at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

The Hamlin Garland Prize in Popular History is named after the Midwestern writer Hamlin Garland, a product of Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota who sought to promote writing about his home region and published widely in popular outlets.  His many books include Daughter of the Middle Border, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922. The Garland Prize honors a work of popular history about the Midwest published in the previous calendar year that contributes to broader public reflection and appreciation of the region’s past. For purposes of the award, “the Midwest” includes the twelve states of the region as defined by the US Census: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Works of popular history eligible for the prize may include, but are not limited to, articles in popular history magazines and journals, feature stories in magazines and newspapers, and books written for a broad public audience.

Past winners:

2015: James E. Sherow and John R. Charlton for Railroad Empire Across the Heartland: Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s Westward Journal, published by the University of New Mexico Press. Sherow is a Professor of History at Kansas State University and Charlton was a long-time photographer for the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas.