History Department Honors, Scholarships and Awards

Paper Prizes

Students self-nominate for these annually awarded prizes. The recipients are determined by the Honors and Awards Committee. Students must choose which category / prize they are submitting their paper to--no double dipping. Consult with your professors if you're curious which prize category might best fit your paper.

Emerging Scholar Prizes

Honors the best paper written for a 100 or 200-level course. Up to 2 are awarded. This award is intended for students who have not yet completed BOTH 301 and 302 nor progressed to 400 level courses in the major. Those eligible include First and Second-year students, as well as new Transfer students and others who fit the criteria above.

Black and white photograph of Professor Bill Derby
Professor Bill Derby, pictured in his office in the 1980s.

Bill Derby Award for Best HIST 302 Paper

This award in honor of the late professor Bill Derby, who taught here from 1957 to 1993, recognizes a major research project undertaken as part of this core course in the Geneseo curriculum.

Best Historiographical Paper from HIST 301

This award is given in honor of the best historiographical paper produced in a HIST 301 seminar.

Jennifer Wachunas Prize for Best Paper in Women’s and Gender History

This award, in memory of alum Jennifer Wachunas '96, was established to honor outstanding work in the history of women and gender, a field that Jennifer excelled in during her time at Geneseo.

Best Paper in US History

Honors the best research paper, historiographical paper, or project written in US history topics at the 300 or 400 level. Native American, “America in the World” and US imperialism topics are also eligible. Funded by the Val Rabe fund and James Swarts (‘71), who taught American history for years in the department.

Tamarin Prize for Best Paper in Histories of the World

Honors the best research paper, historiographical paper, or project written in Latin American, African, Asian, and European histories (no US-focused papers). 300 and 400 level papers / projects are eligible. Funded by Emeritus Professor David Tamarin, who taught Latin American history from 1984–2014 in the department, and his wife Paquita Vicente-Tamarin.

Val Rabe Prize for Best 400-Level Paper

Honors the project of a major piece of research in 400 -level elective class. Both primary research and historiographical papers are eligible. This award is given in memory of Professor Val Rabe, who was a member of the history department from 1967-1997. All fields eligible. Award is given at the Committee’s discretion.

Derek Kaczorowski Memorial Best Senior Thesis Prize

This award recognizes the best of senior thesis completed by history majors. This award is given in memory of alum Derek Kaczorowski '18.

Departmental Prizes

These are supported by the Department’s Foundation account as one-time awards. These awards are not endowed, so the department may use discretion in issuing an award.

History Department Senior Award for Community Involvement

This prize is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated a commitment to history-related public service that engages communities with a richer understanding of history.

History Department Senior Award for Academic Achievement

This prize is given to a graduating senior who has a consistent record of academic achievement, including excellence in coursework, presentation of conference papers and/or publications, and other academic activities.

Black and white photo of Professor Kathryn Beck instructing a classroom ca. 1964
Professor Kathryn Beck instructing a first-year history course, ca. 1964.

Dr. Kathryn J. Beck Prize for Outstanding Senior History Majors

This prize is given to a graduating senior with high academic achievement and a significant record of service to the history department, in memory of Dr. Kathryn J. Beck, Emerita Professor of History. It is generously supported by donations from alumni, friends, faculty, and history department staff.


These endowed awards are administered annually by the Office of Advancement. Students apply via Financial Aid. The value of each prize can vary according to the income generated by their endowment.

James K. Somerville Sophomore History Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is supported by Dr. James K. Somerville, Emeritus Professor of History, and recognizes an outstanding sophomore history major.

Dr. William E. Derby Tribute Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is given to the student who exemplifies the standards of academic achievement and community engagement upheld by the late Dr. William E. Derby, a professor of history at Geneseo from 1957 to 1993.

Bonnie C. Henzel Memorial Endowed Scholarship

This need-based scholarship is given in alternate years to the departments of English and History, to a student who has achieved academic honors. Supported by an endowment established in memory of Bonnie C. Henzel '76 by her husband, William J. Henzel.

Mark A. Callanan Memorial Scholarship

This need-based scholarship was established by the Callanan Family, the Altieri Family, the committee for the Mark A. Callanan Memorial 5K Run in memory of Mark Callanan '10. It is given to a student in good academic standing, majoring in History or Political Science, who is passionate about political, military or historical issues that impact humanity, whether local or abroad.