RHS History Today Prize

Astronaut James Irwin gives salute beside U.S. flag, 1 Aug 1971

The RHS History Today prize rewards high-quality work by undergraduates in their final-year dissertations. It is jointly sponsored by the RHS and History Today, and is part of our close association with a magazine which since 1951 has been a pioneer in communicating the results of historical scholarship to the general public. The successful candidate will be awarded a prize of £250 and, at the discretion of the Editor of History Today, an edited article-length version of their dissertation will be published in a future issue of the magazine.

The 2016 prize was awarded to Emma Marshall (University of Durham) for her dissertation ‘Women’s Domestic Medical Practice, Recipe Writing and Knowledge Networks in Seventeenth-Century England‘. The judges – Professor Ole Grell of the Open University; Professor Trish Skinner of Swansea University; and Paul Lay, Editor of History Today – thought the dissertation was ‘an outstanding, rigorously researched piece of scholarship, which also managed to be a hugely enjoyable read.’

I am honoured and delighted to accept this award for my undergraduate dissertation from such respected institutions as the Royal Historical Society and History Today magazine. Recipe books, a relatively under-explored historical source, are a fascinating window into seventeenth-century domestic medicine. They provide a truly compelling insight into early modern diseases and remedies, but also reveal people’s fears, beliefs and confidences in their own abilities and in the workings of the natural and supernatural worlds. The recording, making and administering of medicines involved immense organisation, expertise and hard work, and I hope that my dissertation reflects my admiration for the compilers of these books. Such material offers endless possibilities for future research, which I look forward to reading. I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Dr Cathy McClive, whose generous advice, suggestions and recommendations were invaluable from the start. Although challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed writing this dissertation, and the experience prepared me well for my current Masters thesis in Early Modern History.

Emma Marshall

How to Enter

  • The potential level of entries to the prize is large and to reduce numbers to manageable proportions we limit entries to one for every UK Higher Education institution.
  • Departments are invited to nominate the candidate judged by the examiners to have presented the best dissertation.
  • History departments should complete this Entry Form. They will be asked to upload a copy of the dissertation.

Deadline for entries:  31 August 2018

Past RHS History Today prize winners

All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Melanie Ransom, at: m.ransom@royalhistsoc.org

Submit entry