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 2015 prize was awarded to Cora Salkovskis (University of Oxford) for her dissertation ‘Psychiatric photography and control in the ‘benevolent asylum’ of Holloway: the construction of image, identity and narrative in photographs of female patients in the late nineteenth-century asylum‘. The judges – Dr Lars Fischer of UCL; Professor John Henderson of Birkbeck, University of London; and Paul Lay, Editor of History Today – thought the dissertation was ‘an outstanding piece of work, reflecting equal sensitivity in the use of visual imagery and written evidence and their inter-dependence.’

Cora Salkovskis and Paul Lay

I am thrilled to accept this award for my recent undergraduate thesis on gendered psychiatric photography and control in the Holloway Sanatorium casebooks. I am incredibly glad to have helped shed light on the lives and histories of the women captured in these images. The experiences uncovered within the asylum were harrowing to read, let alone live, and I am immensely glad that such a project has opened a window into such cases and issues. My hope is that such recognition for my work, which uses photographic source material as a methodological approach within integrated histories of visual culture, will further a growing interest in this field within the historical discipline. My work on this project was hugely aided by the support of many of those around me and particularly facilitated by my fantastic supervisor Jane Garnett. The process of writing this thesis; at times incredibly tough, at others highly exciting, was hugely rewarding and has only further inspired my desire to continue on to postgraduate study and an academic career in History. 

Cora Salkovskis

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 2017

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