Michael C. Robinson Prize for Historical Analysis

A $500 cash award and a certificate, rewarding historical studies that contribute directly to the formation of public policy.  This biennial prize will next be awarded in 2017.

2015 Winner

Other than War: The American Military Experience and Operations in the Post-Cold War Decades, by Frank N. Schubert

2015 Honorable Mention

First in Class Acquisition Challenges, by Justin L.C. Eldridge, Naval History and Heritage Command

Submission Guidelines

The National Council on Public History invites applications and nominations for the biennial Michael C. Robinson Prize for Historical Analysis. Dr. Robinson was a pioneering public works historian who tirelessly promoted historical research as a component of policy formation. He was associate editor, with Suellen Hoy, of the American Public Works Association’s bicentennial History of Public Works in the United States and wrote Water for the West: The Bureau of Reclamation, 1902-1977. Robinson served as research coordinator for the Public Works Historical Society, as the first historian of the Corps of Engineers Mississippi River Commission/Lower Mississippi Valley Division, and as the division’s Chief of Public Affairs until his death in 1998.

The Robinson Prize, a $500 cash award and a certificate, recognizes historical studies that contribute to the formation of public policy. For the purposes of this award, “historical studies” is defined as public works and infrastructure history, environmental history, historic preservation and cultural resource management studies, institutional history, and similar analytical works that assess change over time. “Public policy” is defined broadly to include environmental, economic, social, cultural, political, and diplomatic policy promulgated for use at the local, regional, national, or international level. Award recipients receive complimentary registration for the awards breakfast at the NCPH annual meeting. An individual may submit an application based on his or her own work or may nominate the work of another historian with the nominee’s permission.


  1. The applicant/nominee must be an historian employed in a public agency or a contractor for a public agency at the time the study was prepared.
  2. Nominations may be for a single project or a collected body of work.
  3. The work must have been prepared for use at some level of government, from municipal to  international.
  4. The applicant must show that the study contributed to public policy formation.

Award Criteria

Applications will be judged on the basis of professionalism, clarity, and impact on policy. Evidence of the latter might include that the study was requested as an integral part of a policy-making process or that the study was completed during the period of policy formation and demonstrably influenced its content. The Robinson Prize Committee strongly recommends that the application include a letter from the head of the applicant/nominee’s office attesting to the study’s impact on policy.

Submission Process

A submission packet should include a copy of the award nomination and cover sheet, an example of research and reports, and two letters of support.  Send a copy of the packet to each of the Robinson Prize Committee members (available in 2016) and an additional copy to the NCPH Executive Offices:

Robinson Prize, NCPH
127 Cavanaugh Hall – IUPUI
425 University Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Submissions are due (not postmarked) by 1 December 2016 for this biannual award.


Past Robinson Prize Award Winners


  • The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation, by Patrick Sullivan and Mary Beth Reed- New South Associates, and Christy Johnson-George Transmission Corporation
    • Honorable Mention- “Unsealing Federal Grand Jury Records (1996-2010)”, Bruce Craig- University of Prince Edward Island


  • Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry, by Andrew J. Butrica


First year awarded

  • “Human Heritage Management in New Zeeland in the Year 2000 and Beyond,” Jannelle Warren-Findley