Libraries Awards

Columbia University Libraries is proud to administer several prestigious annual prizes and awards:

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The Bancroft Prize was established at Columbia University in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, a preeminent historian, librarian, author, and Columbia University lecturer.  It is considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of history. Under the terms of the will of the late Bancroft, provision is made for two annual prizes of equal rank to be awarded to the authors of distinguished works in either or both of the following categories: American History (including biography) and Diplomacy.

Application Guidelines


The Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History honors the late Senator’s love of theater and his profound interest in American history. It is awarded to a new play or musical that enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States, to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy. The Prize is a cash award of $100,000. Administered by Columbia University Libraries, the Prize was established by the Senator’s sister, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, in consultation with the award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner.

Between 2011 and 2016, the Libraries Research Awards Program provided grants to scholars and researchers with a compelling need to access to Columbia’s special and unique collections. Information about previous awards can be found on the Libraries Research Awards page.