The Coffman First-Manuscript Prize Award Guidelines
This prize is named in honor of Edward M. “Mac” Coffman, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose pioneering social histories of the U.S. Army exemplified the best of the “new military history” and remain indispensable classics. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Professor Coffman trained many leading military historians, including two past presidents of the Society for Military History, and this award honors his deep commitment to mentoring the next generation of scholars.
The Society for Military History First Manuscript Prize is awarded annually to an author who has not previously published a scholarly book-length manuscript. It is recommended that recently-defended dissertations be revised for publication before submission. The competition is open to scholars whose work blends military history with social, political, economic, and diplomatic history and to authors of studies centering on campaigns, leaders, technology, and doctrine. The winning author receives a cash award, a plaque, and, dependent on a successful editorial review, a publication contract with the University of North Carolina Press. The winner also will be recognized at the Society for Military History annual meeting.
Please note that manuscripts already under contract with a press are not eligible for consideration. Manuscripts under consideration by other presses may be entered into this competition, but if the work is placed under contract elsewhere during the Prize Committee's deliberations, it becomes ineligible and will be removed from the competition. Applicants are obligated to notify the committee chair immediately in the event that a submitted manuscript is placed under contract.
- The author must be a member in good standing of the Society for Military History at the time of submission.
- Only English-language manuscripts will be considered; U.S. citizenship is not required.
- The body text of a submitted manuscript must be at least 250 pages in length.
- Translations are not eligible for consideration unless the author has translated the manuscript.
- Author must submit a full manuscript, a 3-5-page précis of the same, and a current curriculum vitae to the chair of the Coffman Prize Committee by the posted deadline. The précis must include a statement of the work's thesis and conclusions, its place in the relevant historiography, and any new or underutilized primary source materials or innovative methodologies that shape it.
- All submissions must be double-spaced and submitted in PDF format.
- The committee chair will advertise a call for submissions on relevant Listserves and online forums. Along with the other committee members, the chair will also contact faculty in programs with PhD students in military history. The call for submissions will ideally be circulated 8-10 weeks before the advertised application deadline. Ideally, the decision must be reached two months before the annual meeting to allow time for preparation and delivery of the plaque.
- The committee chair will field questions from potential applicants, receive applications, then upload all materials to the Coffman Committee team drive.
- The Committee members will have access to this drive provided to them by the committee chair.
- After the application deadline, committee members will review all applications and keep notes of their assessment of each application.
- The committee members will rank the manuscripts into groups 1, 2, 3, and 4, with 4 being the highest. Committee rankings will be based on research quality, historiographical significance, originality, and the quality and clarity of the writing.
- Each committee member will be asked to share her/his rankings with the committee, with a focus on submissions in groups 3 and 4. Over the next few days, the committee will deliberate either via email or phone/video conference to arrive at an award winner. The committee may also choose to recognize up to two submissions with the designation of Honorable Mention.
- In the event that the committee does not arrive at consensus, a vote will determine the winner.
- The committee chair will notify the other applicants of the committee’s decision only after the winner has accepted the award.
- The committee chair will notify the SMH president, vice president and executive director of the award winner(s) acceptance.
- The committee chair will upload all pertinent communication regarding the deliberations to the Coffman team drive.