Master’s Thesis Award

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The Iowa History Center at Simpson College seeks nominations annually for recognition of the outstanding master's thesis in a field of Iowa history. This award is based on the recipient's contribution to the knowledge of Iowa history, the originality of the subject matter or methodology, and the use of sources and written expression. For the 2016 award, nominees must have completed their master's degree between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

The winner, to be announced in the fall of 2016, will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an award plaque.

For more information, please contact Linda Sinclair, (515) 961-1528,

Past Recipients:

Hope Mitchell 2014: Hope Mitchell, Iowa State University
Ankeny native Hope Mitchell was this year’s recipient of the Iowa History Center’s annual award for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis in Iowa History. Mitchell received her MA in history from Iowa State University in the spring of 2014 and was recognized for her thesis, “Sacrificing our Daughters: Changing Perceptions of Prostitution in Iowa, 1880-1915.” Not only was she honored by the Center with a plaque and $1,000 prize, she was also featured in a front-page article in the Des Moines Register. Mitchell’s study focused on prostitution in Des Moines and examined the city’s changing attitudes and approaches to the issue. “We are thrilled to recognize Hope’s work,” said Bill Friedricks, director of the Iowa History Center. “She pieced together an intriguing story through an array of unique and under-utilized sources. Her thesis is an important contribution to Iowa’s social history.”
You can read Hope's thesis here
Eric Zimmer 2013: Eric Zimmer, University of Iowa
The IHC 2013 Master’s Award winner was Eric Zimmer for his thesis "Settlement Sovereignty: Land and Meskwaki Self-Governance 1856-1937". Eric's focus is on 20th century America, especially relating to Native Americans, politics, and federal/state Indian policy. He is also deeply interested in public history and connecting academic historians' work with a broader audience.

You can read Eric's thesis
Garret Wilson with Bill friedricks 2012: Garret Wilson, Iowa State University
Garret Wilson received the 2012 IHC prize for his thesis, “The Collapse of the Iowa Democratic Party: Iowa and the Lecompton Constitution.” Wilson reexamines the collapse of the Iowa Democratic Party, and challenges the view that its general demise was connected to the effects of Kansas-Nebraska Act. Instead, Wilson focuses specifically on the Lecompton Constitution, which he argues led to divisions within the party. This allowed Republicans to take political control of the state by the end of the 1850s.

Read Garret's thesis. Watch Garret discuss his research.