Each year, the HOTCUS Article Prize and Early Career Article Prize recognize the outstanding research being published by HOTCUS members. A prize of £100.00 is awarded to the best article on a twentieth-century US history topic published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal during the previous calendar year. Below are the details of previous winners and the citations by the awarding committee.

The 2023 HOTCUS Article Prize was awarded to Zoe Colley (University of Dundee) who won the first prize for their article “Erasing Minds: Behavioral Modification, the Prison Rights Movement, and Psychological Experimentation in America’s Prisons, 1962–1983” published in the Journal of American Studies.In their comments, the committee praised Colley’s work, highlighting that: “In her compelling analysis of the use of behavioural modification programmes in the American penal system in the 1960s and 1970s, Zoe Colley convincingly establishes the critical role that psychologists and psychiatrists played in the development of the carceral state in the latter 20th century. Centring her analysis on the Marion Federal Penitentiary, Colley illustrates how behavioural scientists used psychological torture to “correct” perceived deficiencies in politically radical men, employing techniques such as brainwashing, sensory deprivation, or the use of psychotropic substances to subjugate them beneath the guise of rehabilitation. Although Colley’s article details the horrifying experiences that Black nationalists, Chicanos, and other politically active prisoners underwent while locked in Marion, her work also shines a light on the organized resistance and political solidarity of these men. Coordinating strikes, legal challenges, and external campaigning these men successfully resisted this dehumanization, even though they were ultimately unable to prevent the rise of the supermax system in the 1980s and 1990s. By examining this institution and the wider discourse about penal reform, Colley has refined our understanding of the transition from rehabilitation to more punitive measures within American penitentiaries and encourages us to think more broadly about the intersections between the histories of psychology, the penal system, and the prison reform movement.”
The committee also awarded an honourable mention to Katharina Rietzler (University of Sussex) for her article “U.S. Foreign Policy Think Tanks and Women’s Intellectual Labor, 1920–1950” publlished in Diplomatic History.

Stephen Colbrook (University of Oxford) who won the 2023 HOTCUS ECR Article Prize for his article “Clandestine Networks and Closeted Bureaucrats: AIDS and the Forming of a Gay Policy Network in California”  published in the Journal of Policy History. The committee commended this work, noting that: “Stephen Colbrook’s innovative article painstakingly pieces together the efforts of California’s gay civil servants and lobbyists to influence the response to the AIDS crisis, providing a critical intervention that refocuses our attention on the role of individual states during the early years of the epidemic. Examining the development of state legislation, Colbrook shines a light on how openly gay civil servants were able to cultivate bipartisan networks of support to help develop less intrusive measures that could protect those living with the virus from being discriminated against in access to healthcare, employment, and housing. The article also demonstrates how such campaigners gained support for such progressive measures by couching their advocacy in the language of fiscal conservatism and respect for individual rights that would appeal to California’s conservatives and the political climate of the 1980s. Furthermore, Colbrook is able to uncover how such policy makers relied on their contacts in the gay and lesbian community and a secret network of closeted bureaucrats in California’s civil service to relay concerns of institutional homophobia and inform their approaches. Although such efforts were kept off the official record, Colbrook has managed to employ interviews to corroborate the influence of this clandestine network and reframe our understanding of contradictory roles of the closet and coming out in the gay and lesbian rights movement. By focusing on state politics and individual policy makers, Colbrook’s intervention in histories of the AIDS crisis not only nuances our understanding the political response to the epidemic but illustrates the paradoxical relationship between openly gay activists and closeted individuals in the politics of the late 20th century American history.”  
The committee also awarded an honourable mention to Catriona Byers (King’s College London) in the ECR category for her article “Rethinking New York’s ‘dark shadow’: managing the unclaimed dead on Hart Island, 1869 to the present day” published in Architecture_MPS.

The 2022 HOTCUS Article Prize was awarded to Christian O’Connell (University of Gloucestershire) who won the first prize for their article “A Roman Holiday? African Americans and Italians in the Second World War” published in History in 2021.  In awarding the prize, the committee remarked: “Christian O’Connell’s fascinating article offers a unique perspective on the grass-roots relationships African-American troops developed with everyday Italians during World War II. Tracing lived experiences through testimonies, photographs, and newspaper coverage, he reconstructs the positive relationships between troops and civilians in one of the frontlines of the war. O’Connell draws on a range of primary and secondary sources, including research in Italian-language material, to provide a vivid account of how people on the ground navigated complex issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality in creating ties based on empathy and shared experience. It offers a snapshot of how humans respond in the face of war and social prejudice and would make for a fine teaching resource. It is a worthy winner of the 2022 HOTCUS Article Prize.”

Emma Day (University of Oxford) won the 2022 HOTCUS ECR Article Prize for their article “The Fire Inside: Women Protesting AIDS in Prison since 1980” published in Modern American History in 2022. The committee commended this work, noting that: “Emma Day’s ground-breaking article explores the intersections between gender, race, health, and the carceral state in 1980s and 1990s through looking at the conditions, lives, and campaigns of women living with HIV-AIDS in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York, and the Central California Women’s Facility, in Chowchilla, California. Weaving beautifully together the histories of health, the law, racism, the carceral state, and political activism, her narrative powerfully brings to light how the medical neglect of those women reflected the racist and misogynistic character of the ever-growing prison sector in response to “tough on crime” policies. With a sharp analytical focus, Day traces how the withholding of medical care turned into an extension of the punitive regime. But as Day skilfully demonstrates, these women were not simply passive victims of the prison regime. Based on an impressive array of archival materials, including those women’s own narratives, she shows how they found their own voice and lived their own resistance through the running of education programmes within prison walls and by powerful political and legal campaigning beyond those walls. Her close study of the powerplay between the prison system and the women living with HIV-AIDS significantly enhances our understanding of the modern carceral states as much as it contributes to the growing historiography on gender, race, and the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Even more so, Day’s careful portrayal of those women imprisoned living in constant pain and often fear of death illuminates one of the most inhumane aspects of the US prison system which sadly connects the past with the present.” 
The committee also awarded an honourable mention to Emily Brady (University of Oxford) in the ECR category for her article ““I Take the Pictures as I See Them”: Doris Derby as Womanist, Activist and Photographer in the Civil Rights Movement.” published in 2022.  

The 2021 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Patrick Hagopian (Lancaster University) who won the first prize for their article “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Politics of Post-Racialism” published in History and Memory in 2020.  In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation: “While much has already been written on the monument, this article takes a closer look at the committee formed to develop and design the monument, a committee that has not deposited its records in any formal capacity. In doing so, it provides an in-depth and often revealing examination of the processes and people behind the monument. Given the power of King’s image, and the ongoing contestations of what that should or should not be, this is an important piece that will significantly improve our understanding of King’s status in contemporary political culture and public life. Important work has already been undertaken on the political symbolism of the King monument, and in particular, what it means that the statue was overwhelmingly approved in the first place, given how divisive King was in his own lifetime. However, this piece goes beyond the debates of politicians to document the covert financial and design processes of the eventual statue’s development and execution, which are every bit as revealing as the political rehabilitation of some of King’s most forceful former detractors.” The committee also awarded an Honorary Mention to Reetta Humalajoki (University of Turku) for her article: “Tearing down the ‘buckskin curtain’: domestic policy-making and Indigenous intellectuals in the Cold War United States and Canada” published in Cold War History in 2020.

For the first time, HOTCUS also awarded an ECR article prize. Sarah Thomson (University of Edinburgh) won the first prize in this category for their article: “Presidential Travel and the Rose Garden Strategy: a case study of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 tour of Europe”, published in Presidential Studies Quarterly in 2020. The committee commented: “In this fascinating article, Thomson explores how Ronald Reagan’s 1984 tour of Europe sought to take the ‘Rose Garden Strategy’ — the status and symbolism of the US presidency — abroad. Consciously curated to have an impact on domestic politics, Thomson reveals how the trip did not have the intended consequences but why the approach was significant and continues to the present. The article will interest a broad readership of specialists and non-specialists alike, bringing presidential studies in conversation with histories of the media, electoral politics, and US foreign relations. Thomson has produced an accessible, persuasively written article that makes an important contribution and deserves a wide readership.” The committee also awarded an Honorary Mention to Peter Millwood (University of Hong Kong) for his article: “An ‘Exceedingly Delicate Undertaking’: Sino- American Science Diplomacy, 1966–78” published in the Journal of Contemporary History in 2021. 

The 2020 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Kaeten Mistry (University of East Anglia) for their article ‘A Transnational Protest against the National Security State: Whistle-Blowing, Philip Agee, and Networks of Dissent’ which was published in the Journal of American History. In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation: ‘In this fascinating and wide-ranging article, Kaeten Mistry illuminates the journey that CIA whistle-blower Philip Agee followed through two interconnected circuits with global reach during the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s: first, a network of dissenting organizations and socialist states with interests in publicizing and supporting Agee’s critiques of the CIA’s involvement in espionage, assassination plots, manipulating political debate and aiding repressive regimes; second, a constellation of state actors within the western alliance, with the US government at its centre, commonly concerned to keep Agee on the move. Mistry’s article draws upon Agee’s own papers, US and UK national archives, the records of non-government organizations and an array of newspapers to bring into sharper focus the dispersed operations of both networks, whilst also demonstrating the often-unintended interplay between them: the existence of a transnational dissent culture made Agee’s whistle-blowing activities possible; the amplification of Agee’s revelations by that culture made the US authorities more anxious to disrupt and constrain his activities; such targeting left Agee even more dependent upon the support of dissenters and socialist governments whilst also drawing public attention to the coercive American diplomacy that insisted other western democracies deny Agee a right to remain. Mistry compellingly delineates the tensions implicit in the exercise of American hegemony as the 1970s’ heyday of the anti-imperial whistle-blower shaded into the Second Cold War. His article will be essential reading for all scholars interested in the history of whistle-blowing, the transnational dimensions of post-war political dissent, and the extra-territorial machinations of the American national security state.’

The 2019 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Daniel Matlin (King’s College London) for his article ‘“A New Reality of Harlem”: Imagining the African American Urban Future during the 1960s’ which was published in the Journal of American Studies. In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation: In this methodologically innovative and beautifully written article, Daniel Matlin explores how, during the black freedom struggles of the 1960s, hopes for a post-segregation future led activists, intellectuals and architects to re-imagine the built environment in Harlem, America’s ‘race capital’. Matlin demonstrates that the divergent perspectives of Harlem as embodying either the confinement of black Americans within a socio-economic ghetto or the creative promise of black urban culture both found expression in new architectural manifestoes: was Harlem so pathological that it had to be destroyed and built anew, or could it be renewed through investments in its existing streets and public spaces which would enhance its integrity as a living African American community? Matlin is attentive throughout to the manner in which ideas about race, gender, history, poverty, local democracy, social policy and urbanism intersected to influence these competing visions of the future Harlem. His article is a brilliantly sophisticated study that encourages its readers to think in broader terms about how integrationist and black nationalist political programmes were imagined in the 1960s and to reflect on the other ways in which the ‘spatial’ turn might illuminate histories of race in America.

The 2018 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Christopher Phelps (University of Nottingham) for his article “The Sexuality of Malcolm X,” which was published in the Journal of American Studies. In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation: In this bold and engrossing article, Christopher Phelps takes a subject many of us will feel we know well – the life and times of Malcolm X – and forces us to rethink it anew. By scouring the historical record for discussions of Malcolm’s sexuality and placing the resulting findings against the backdrop of the historical literature on both black radicalism and American sexualities, Phelps brings clarity to a set of controversial historical questions, as well as making a major contribution to these important sub-fields of modern US history. The article’s themes are unfolded elegantly along the complex twists and turns of the evidential trail, offering both an education in the nature of historical research and a model of lucid, engaging prose. Ultimately, then, this is an article that all HOTCUS members should read and share with their students.

The inaugural 2017 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Maria McGrath (Bucks County Community College) for her article “Living Feminist: The Liberation and Limits of Countercultural Business and Radical Lesbian Ethics at Bloodroot Restaurant“, which was published in The Sixties: Journal of History, Politics and Culture. In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation: In this outstanding article, Maria McGrath tells the story of the Connecticut-based Bloodroot Collective and Restaurant, which operated in the 1970s and 1980s at the intersections of the radical feminist, countercultural, and gay liberation movements. McGrath’s exhaustive research and skillful use of oral history draws together the personal narratives of Selma Miriam, Betsey Bevan, Samn Stockwell, Pat Shea and Noel Furie, placing their lives against the backdrop of broader developments within social movement circles after the 1960s. The author provides perceptive analysis of change over time within Bloodroot, highlighting both the promise and the pitfalls of what she describes as “relational commerce”. The article consequently provides an effective model for the integration of the study of foodways into the history of US social movements. Finally, McGrath’s approach successfully tackles the thorny issue of intersectionality, by analyzing how the collective’s approach to questions of race developed, often imperfectly, along with those of the broader radical feminist movement.
Overall, the article offers neither a narrative of triumph, nor of declension, but rather a nuanced picture of the lived realities of prefigurative politics in the late twentieth-century United States. It is a triumph of historical scholarship, and a worthy winner of the inaugural HOTCUS Article Prize.