The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation has established a dissertation prize of $5,000. The winning dissertation may focus on any area of American legal history, including constitutional and comparative studies, but topics dealing with the colonial and early national periods will receive some preference. Anyone on whom a Ph.D. or S.J.D. degree has been conferred in the preceding calendar year will be eligible for this year’s prize. A dissertation may be considered for the prize only once. The Cromwell Prize Advisory Committee of the American Society for Legal History (the “ASLH”) reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the Foundation.

Application Procedure:

The application procedure is described on the ASLH website, which may be accessed by clicking the following link:

Past Recipients:

Year Winner
2020 Sonia Tycko, “Captured Consent: Bound Service and Freedom of Contract in Early Modern England and English America” – a dissertation submitted to Harvard University.
2019 Jonathan Lande, “Disciplining Freedom: U.S. Army Slave Rebels and Emancipation in the Civil War” – a dissertation submitted to Brown University.
2018 Allison Powers Useche, “Settlement Colonialism: Compensatory Justice in United States Expansion, 1903-1941”—a dissertation submitted to Columbia University.
2017 Maeve Herbert Glass, “These United States: A History of the Fracturing of America” – a dissertation submitted to Princeton University.
2016 Suzanne Kahn, “Divorce and the Politics of the American Social Welfare Regime, 1969-2001” – a dissertation submitted to Columbia University.
2015 Sarah Levine-Gronningsater, “Delivering Freedom: Gradual Emancipation, Black Legal Culture, and the Origins of Sectional Crisis in New York, 1759-1870” – a dissertation submitted to the University of Chicago.
2014 Elisa Martia Alvarez Minoff, “Free to Move? The Law and Politics of Internal Migration in Twentieth-Century America”—a dissertation submitted to Harvard University.
2013 Hidetaka Hirota, for “Nativism, Citizenship, and the Deportation of Paupers in Massachusetts, 1837-1883”—a dissertation submitted to Boston University.
2012 Laura M. Weinrib for “The Liberal Compromise: Civil Liberties, Labor, and the Limits of State Power, 1917-1940”—a dissertation submitted to Princeton University.
2011 Cynthia Nicoletti for “The Great Question of the War: The Legal Status of Secession in the Aftermath of the American Civil War, 1865-1869”—a dissertation submitted to University of Virginia.
2010 Anna Leah Fidelis T. Castañeda, “Creating Exceptional Empire: American Liberal Constitutionalism and the Construction of the Constitutional Order of the Philippine Islands, 1898-1935”—a dissertation submitted for the SJD degree at Harvard University.
2009 Jed Shugerman, “The People’s Courts: The Rise of Judicial Elections and Judicial Power in America”—a dissertation submitted for a Ph.D. at Yale University.
2008 Diana Williams for “They Call It Marriage’: the Louisiana Interracial Family and the Making of American Legitimacy”—a dissertation submitted for a Ph.D. at Harvard University.
2007 Christopher Beauchamp for “The Telephone Patents: Intellectual Property, Business and the Law in the United States and Britain, 1876-1900”—a dissertation submitted for a Ph.D. at Cambridge University.