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Kaplan Senior Essay Prize: Home

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Moira Fitzgerald

Program Director for Reference & User Assessment



Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prizes

Submissions for the 2024 Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prize will be open April 1- May 1 (midnight).

Yale University Library’s Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prize is awarded for up to three outstanding senior essays based on research in any Yale University Library special collection. 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 certificate will be presented at the winning students’ residential college commencement ceremonies and the $500 prize is deposited in students' bank accounts by the university after Commencement Day.

To be eligible for consideration for prizes, essays must represent substantial use of Yale Library special collections and comprise original research that has been submitted to a Yale academic department in the current 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.

Essays are judged on the following characteristics:

  • Original argument, engaging structure, and valuable scholarly contribution.
  • Substantial, creative, and appropriate use of sources from Yale Library special collections.
  • Excellent grammar and style.
  • Consistent and appropriate citation of sources.

Assessing the "substantial, creative, and appropriate 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 special collections mentioned in the final paragraph below OR materials from those collections should significantly inform answers to the major questions addressed in your essay OR the essay should be focused on a creative, in-depth analysis of one or more items held in the Yale Library special collections. 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 and early May and prize winners are notified in the week prior to Yale Commencement Day exercises.

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 essays on the topic of Yale history or based on research in Manuscripts and Archives collections, the Kaplan Prize was expanded in 2022 to recognize outstanding essays on any topic based on research in any Yale Library special collection, which includes: Arts Library Special Collections, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (including Manuscripts and Archives), Divinity Library Special Collections, Lewis Walpole Library, Medical Historical Library, Music Library Special Collections, and the Yale Film Archive.