Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA) offers up to two undergraduate student prizes each year, in memory of our colleague Diane E. Kaplan, who was instrumental in making these prizes available to Yale College seniors. The prizes are for an outstanding senior essay, on any topic (including Yale), based substantially on research done in Manuscripts and Archives.
Each prize-winning author receives a certificate and a $500 cash prize, presented at the student's residential college Commencement Day ceremony.
An eligible senior essay must represent original research that has been submitted to a Yale academic department in the academic year ending the same year as the prize competition for which it is submitted. 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.
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 Manuscripts and Archives materials is tricky, but as a benchmark, approximately one quarter of the primary sources used should be from collection materials held in Manuscripts and Archives, or MSSA collection material 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 April.