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Kaplan Senior Essay Prize: Home

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Bill Landis

Associate Director for Public Services, Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library


telephone: (203) 432-1069

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Congratulations to the three recipients of the 2022 Kaplan Senior Essay Prize:

Yale University Library’s Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prize will be awarded for up to two outstanding senior essays based on research in any Yale University Library special collections. Essays from any academic department on any topic are eligible for consideration. Prize-winning essays are published in EliScholar, the library’s digital platform for scholarly publishing.

The award of a $500 prize will be presented at the winning students’ residential college commencement ceremonies.

To be eligible for consideration for 2022 prizes, essays must represent original research that has been submitted to a Yale academic department in the 2021-22 academic year. Both one-semester and two-semester senior essays are eligible. Excepting grammatical, spelling, and punctuation fixes, the essay submitted for prize consideration should be the same one submitted to the student’s department. Faculty may encourage students to submit, but the actual submission must be made by the student, no later than 5 pm on Friday, April 22.

The Kaplan Senior Essay Prize is given in memory of Diane Kaplan (1947-2012), who worked as an archivist in Manuscripts and Archives for more than 35 years and whose contributions aided and inspired generations of researcher and colleagues. Formerly focused on Yale History and limited to essays based research in Manuscripts and Archives, the Kaplan Prize has been expanded in 2022 to recognize outstanding essays on any topic based on research in any Yale Library special collection: Arts Library Special Collections, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Divinity Library Special Collections, Lewis Walpole Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Medical Historical Library, and Music Library Special Collections.

Essays are judged on the following characteristics: original argument, engaging structure, and valuable scholarly contribution; creative and appropriate use of sources; excellent grammar and style; consistent and appropriate citation of sources.

Assessing the "substantial" use of Yale Library special collections materials is tricky, but as a benchmark, approximately one quarter of the primary sources used should be from collection materials held in one of the seven aforementioned special collections, or materials from those collections should significantly inform answers to the major questions addressed in your essay. Essays from any department are eligible for consideration. Faculty and others may encourage submissions, but students must submit the essays themselves for prize consideration. Prize winning essays are published in EliScholar. The essay prize submission and judging process takes place each year in March-April.