Baltimore History Essay Prize


Annual Joseph Arnold Prize 2017

Joseph L. Arnold Prize
for Outstanding Writing on Baltimore History in 2017

New Submission Deadline: February 1, 2018

Thanks to the generosity of the Byrnes Family, in memory of Joseph R. and Anne S. Byrnes, the Baltimore City Historical Society presents an annual Joseph L. Arnold Prize for Outstanding Writing on Baltimore's History, in the amount of $500.

Joseph L. Arnold, Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, died in 2004, at the age of sixty-six.  He was a vital and enormously important member of the UMBC faculty for some three and a half decades, as well as a leading historian of urban and planning history. He also played an active and often leading role with a variety of private and public historical institutions in the Baltimore area, and at his death was hailed as the "dean of Baltimore historians.

Entries should be unpublished manuscripts between 15 and 45 double-spaced pages in length (including footnotes/endnotes). To submit an entry address a new e-mail message to:   Entries should be submitted via e-mail as attachments in MS Word or PC-convertible format. If illustrations are included, they must be submitted along with the text in either JPG or TIF format.

There will be a "blind judging" of entries by a panel of historians. Criteria for selection are: significance, originality, quality of research, and clarity of presentation. The winner will be announced in Spring 2018. The BCHS reserves the right not to award the prize. The winning entry will be considered for publication in the Maryland Historical Magazine.

Further inquiries may be addressed to:


Garrett Power @ 410-706-7661

2015 AWARD

The winner of the 2015 Joseph Arnold Prize is Aiden James Faust for his essay entitled Neighborhood Matters: What Baltimore Learned from the War on Poverty.

The prize will be announced at the Baltimore City Historical Society’s Annual Meeting on Saturday June 18, 2016 to be held at 9am at the Druid Hill YMCA. All are welcome!

2014 AWARD

Entries for 2014 were judged by a review panel of six scholars of Baltimore history. Dr. Ed Orser, UMBC, chaired the review panel. 

The panelists found two of the entries to be of  exceptional strength and decided that the  conferral of co-winners was merited.

The winners are:

Reviewers were impressed that both papers made excellent use of primary documents, developed original arguments, and contributed to an understanding of important aspects of Baltimore history.

Of Insiders and Outsiders, one reviewer wrote:

 “[‘Insiders and Outsiders’] accurately describes a world in which, for example, a Jew could be Maryland’s speaker ofthe house while Baltimore’s mayor welcomes a Nazi ship to his city.  Even as anti-Semitism reached its peak, Jews were more engaged than ever in Baltimore’s civic and cultural life.  While this dichotomy reflected national trends, circumstances peculiar to Baltimore gave the position of Jews its own distinct character.” 

A review of  For My Race Against All Political Partiescommented:

 “For Black Baltimoreans [the late 1870s and early 1880s] represented a crucial period when a new set of community activists slowly emerged to challenge not only racist white policies, but also established leaders who had seized the mantel of uplift with the fall of slavery.  . . . Men like Harvey Johnson, Joseph S. Briscoe, H. J. Brown, and P. H. A. Braxton pushed Baltimore’s Black community in new directions.”

 The prizes for 2014 will be presented at the Baltimore City Historical Society’s Annual Meeting 10:00 am Saturday June 20, 2015 Robert E. Lee Park, Pavilion 2 1000 Lakeside Drive, Baltimore MD 21210. All are welcome.

2013 AWARD

The award ofthe JosephL. Arnold Prize for Outstanding Writingon Baltimore History in 2013 was grantedto  Charlotte F. Gerczak for her paper entitled The Courage of her Convictions: the Story of Miriam Brailey.

The paper tells the forgotten story of Miriam Esther Brailey, M.D., Dr.P.H., an exceptional woman born with the twentieth century who graduated from both The Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and of [then] Hygiene and Public Health.  She went on to serve the citizens of Baltimore City and both the public and private sectors and to meet life's challenges with determination and faith, even at the risk of her own security. 

2012 AWARD

Eric L. Goldstein, Associate Professor of History at Emory University won the 2012 contest with his essay, How German Were ‘German’ Jews in America in the Nineteenth Century?  A View from Baltimore, and was ranked highest by a panel of five distinguished scholars of Baltimore history. The winning paper can be found here.

2011 AWARD

Winner of the 2011 contest was Sara Patenaude, PH.D. candidate in the History Department of Georgia State University, for her paper, Playing Fair: The Fight for Interracial Athletics in Baltimore. The Society thanks all those who submitted entries, as well as the following judges, who helped to select the winners: Dr. John Beihan, Loyola University of Maryland; Dr. Elizabeth M. Nix, University of Baltimore; and Dr. Michael Franch, Past-president, Baltimore City Historical Society. Thanks, too, to Dr. W. Edward Orser, UMBC, who administered the 2011 competition. To view the winning paper, click here.


Co-winners of the 2010 contest were Eric M. Daniel, for his paper, Northwest Real Estate Company v. Serio: The "Invasion" of a Northwest Baltimore Suburb, and Jordan Vardon, for his paper, Green v. Garrett: How the Economic Boom of Professional Sports Helped to Create, and Destroy, Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. The Society thanks all those who submitted entries, as well as the following judges, who helped to select the winners: Dr. Jean H. Baker, Goucher College; Dr. Peter B. Levy, York College; Dr. W. Edward Orser, UMBC; and Dr. Kaye Whitehead, Loyola College. To view the winning entries, click here and here.


Click here for other Baltimore history events and notices