New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Author Awards 2020 - updated information

Deborah Mercer's picture

The New Jersey authors’ awards were instituted in 1994 to encourage and celebrate books about New Jersey. Awards are considered for works in five, non-fiction categories:

            • edited works
            • popular
            • scholarly
            • reference
            • reproduction of primary resources

All works nominated should provide a new understanding of New Jersey’s history and culture, demonstrate evidence of original research in the application of New Jersey resources and/or reveal new insights into a topic. The work must have been published this year or in the previous two calendar years: 2018 to 2020. There is no in-state residency requirement for authors/editors/compilers.


All works should utilize appropriate primary resources. Although the principle criterion for an award to a scholarly or reference work is the well-written provision of information, a nominated work will also be judged upon its ability to provide full citations for the text, endnotes, footnotes, photographs, illustrations, maps and charts. A complete bibliography or list of references is also expected. Citations should adhere to standard style manuals, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, the MLA Style Manual, etc. Scholarly works of history will also be eligible for the Richard P. McCormick Prize awarded by the New Jersey Historical Commission. Due to the consequences stemming from the COVID-19 crisis, the New Jersey Historical Commission regrets that it is unable to offer a cash prize this year.


The authors’ awards will also recognize those who edit or compile primary, largely untapped, resources–or a collection of essays or articles–and make them widely available by publication in print or on the web. The published primary resource or edited work should be accompanied by commentary and/or explanatory annotations. They will also be held to the same criteria as scholarly and reference works mentioned above.


Nominations by the author/compiler or other submitters will be accepted from February 25, 2020 through May 28th, 2020 by the author/compiler or other submitters. The nomination packet must include an explanatory cover letter (stating for which category the work is nominated) and the nominee’s resume. These should be e-mailed to Deborah Mercer at with “NJSAA Author Award” in the subject line. In addition, five copies of the publication proposed for the award must be mailed to the NJ Authors’ Awards Committee, c/o Deborah Mercer, New Jersey State Library, P.O. Box 520, 185 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08625. Items in electronic format may simply be sent to Deborah Mercer at the e-mail address above. All materials should be received by May 28th, 2020 (an extension from the original April date). 


The full committee reads and reviews all nominations and deliberates over the summer. If more than one work is nominated for a specific category, the committee will choose the one that most closely meets the criteria. If no nominations conform to the criteria, the committee may refrain from giving an award that year.


Winners will be selected and then reported to the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance membership at its fall meeting. All nominees are notified prior to this meeting and announcements are made to various listservs. The awardees receive a certificate of recognition and have the opportunity to discuss their book before a statewide audience at an author panel in conjunction with one of the NJSAA meetings.

Additional information on the award (including past winners) and the Academic Alliance may be found at:


Committee members include: Benjamin Beede, Laura Poll, Larry Kidder, and Deborah Mercer, chair, along with a scholar appointed by the New Jersey Historical Commission