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The Bolton-Cutter Award recognizes the best journal article on any phase of the history of the Borderlands, from the Floridas to the Californias, from the sixteenth century to the present, including the northward movement of Spanish-speaking people into the United States. The article can cover recent events, major political, economic, and social developments, cultures, peoples, institutions, and movements, or be broad essays of synthesis or new interpretations. Articles will be judged on scholarship and literary style. 

Any WHA member, publisher, or author of an essay/article may nominate work that was published in 2023. Journal editors and authors may submit nominations electronically through the email addresses provided below. Submissions must be one pdf file and include the following:

  1. Cover page
  2. Copyright page
  3. Table of contents of journals 
  4. Journal Article 

-2024 Awards Cycle opens January 15, 2024

-2024 Award Submission (Postmark) Deadline: April 15, 2024

The WHA office sends notifications to selected award recipients at the end of August. 


Alejandra Dubcovsky, Chair
University of California, Riverside

Rosina Lozano
Princeton University




2023 | Peter Guardino, “The Constant Recurrence of Such Atrocities: Guerrilla Warfare and Counterinsurgency during the Mexican-American War,” Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2022)

2022 | Jonna Perrillo, "The Perils of Bilingualism: Anglo Anxiety and Spanish Instruction in the Borderlands," Journal of American History (June 2021)

2021 | Andrew Shaler, "Indigenous Peoples and the California Gold Rush: Labour, Violence, and Contention in the Formation of a Settler Colonial State," Postcolonial Studies (Spring 2020)

2020 | C.J. Alvarez for "Police, Waterworks, and the Construction of the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1924-1954," Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2019)

2019 | Alejandra Dubcovsky, “Defying Indian Slavery: Apalachee Voices and Spanish Sources in the Eighteenth-Century Southeast,” William and Mary Quarterly (Spring 2018)

2018 | Robert Lee for "Accounting for Conquest: The Price of the Louisiana Purchase of Indian Country," Western Historical Quarterly (Spring 2017)

2017 | Miroslava Chávez-García for "Migrant Longing, Courtship, and Gendered Identity in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands," Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2016)

2016 | Alice L. Baumgartner for "The Line of Positive Safety: Borders and Boundaries in the Rio Grande Valley, 1848-1880," Journal of American History (Spring 2015)

2015 | Carla Gerona for "With a Song in Their Hands: Incendiary Décimas from the Texas and Louisiana Borderlands during a Revolutionary Age,” Early American Studies (Winter, 2014)

2014 | James David Nichols for "The Line of Liberty: Runaway Slaves and Fugitive Peons in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands," Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2013)

2013 | Grace Peña Delgado for “Border Control and Sexual Policing: White Slavery and Prostitution along the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1903-1910,” in Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2012)

2012 | Juliana Barr for “’Geographies of Power’: Mapping Indian ‘Borderlands’ of the Early Southwest,” in William & Mary Quarterly (January 2011)

2011 | Pekka Hamalainen for “The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Borderlands,” in William & Mary Quarterly (April, 2010)

2010 | Carlos Kevin Blanton for “The Citizenship Sacrifice: Mexican Americans, the Saunders-Leonard Report, and the Politics of Immigration, 1951–1952,” in Western Historical Quarterly (Autumn 2009)

2009 | Claudio Saunt for “Go West: Mapping Early American Historiography,” in William & Mary Quarterly (October 2008)

2008 | Brian DeLay for “Independent Indians and the U.S.-Mexican War,” in American Historical Review (February 2007)

2007 | Dr. Kelly Lytle Hernandez for “The Crimes and Consequences of Illegal Immigration: A Cross-border Examination of Operation Wetback, 1943-1954,” in Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2006)

2006 | Samuel Truett for “Epics of a Greater America: Herbert Eugene Bolton's Quest for a Transnational American History,” in Interpreting Spanish Colonialism: Empires, Nations, and Legends, Schmidt-Nowara and Nieto-Phillips (University of New Mexico Press, 2005)

2005 | Andrew Graybill for “Texas Rangers, Canadian Mounties, and the Policing of the Transnational Industrial Frontier, 1885-1910,” in Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2004)

2004 | Eric V. Meeks for “The Tohono O'odham, Wage Labor, and Resistant Adaptation, 1900-1930,” in Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2003)

2003| David E. Narrett for “José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara: Caudillo of the Mexican Republic in Texas,” in Southwestern Historical Quarterly, CVI (October 2002)

2002 | James F. Brooks for “Lest We Go in Search of relief to Our Lands and Our Nation‖: Customary Justice and Colonial Law in the New Mexico Borderlands, 1680-1821,” in The Many Legalities of Early America. Published for the Omohundro Institute of early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA.(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001)

2001 | Iris H. Wilson Engstrand for “Of Fish and Men: Spanish Marine Science during the Late Eighteenth Century,” in Pacific Historical Review (February 2000)

2000 | No Award Given

1999 | Claudio Saunt for “‘The English has now a Mind to make Slaves of them all‘: Creeks, Seminoles, and the Problem of Slavery,” in American Indian Quarterly (Winter/Spring 1998)

1998 | Steve Hackel for “The Staff of Leadership: Indian Authority in the Missions of Alta California,” in William & Mary Quarterly (April 1997)

1997 | Ross Frank for “The Life of Christ and the New Mexico Santo Tradition,” in Catholic Southwest (1996)

1996 | Martin Padget for “Travel, Exoticism and the Writing of Region: Charles Fletcher Lummis and the ‘Creation‘ of the Southwest,” in Journal of the Southwest (Autumn 1995)

1995 | No Award Given

1994 | Albert L. Hurtado for “Herbert E. Bolton, Racism, and American history,” in Pacific Historical Review (May 1993)

1993 | Emilio Zamora for “The Failed Promise of Wartime Opportunity for Mexicans in the Texas Oil Industry,” in Southwestern Historical Quarterly (January 1992)

1992 | David Gutierrez for “Sin Fronteres? Chicanos, Mexican Americans, and the Emergence of the Contemporary Mexican Immigration Debate, 1968-1978,” in Journal of American Ethnic History (Summer 1991)

Sam D. Ratcliffe for “Escenasde Martirio: Notes on the Destruction of Mission San Saba,” in Southwestern Historical Quarterly (April 1991)

1991 | Harry P. Hewitt for “The Mexican Boundary Survey Team: Pedro Garcia Conde in California,” in Western Historical Quarterly (May 1990)

1990 | No Award Given

1989 | Bolton-Kinnaird Award Established

1988 | No Award Given

1987 | No Award Given

1986 | Harry Kelsey for “Finding the Way Home: Spanish Exploration of the Round-Trip Route Across the Pacific Ocean,” in Western Historical Quarterly (April 1986)

1985 | No Award Given

1984 | No Award Given

1983 | No Award Given

1982 | Albert L. Hurtado for “‘Hardly a Farm HouseundefinedA Kitchen without Them‘: Indian and White Households on the California Borderland Frontier in 1860,” in Western Historical Quarterly (July 1982)

1981 | No Award Given

1980 | No Award Given

1979 | No Award Given

1978 | No Award Given

1977 | David J. Langum for “Californios and the Image of Indolence,” in Western Historical Quarterly (April 1978)

1976 | Thomas H. Naylor for “Massacre at San Pedro de la Cueva: The True Significance of Pancho Villa‘s Disastrous Sonora Campaign,” in Western Historical Quarterly (April 1977)

1975 | No Award Given

1974 | Daniel Garr for “A Rare and Desolate Land: Population and Race in Hispanic California,” in Western Historical Quarterly (April 1975)

1973 | John L. Kessell for “Friars versus Bureaucrats: The Mission as a Threatened Institution on the Arizona-Sonora Frontier, 1767-1842,” in Western Historical Quarterly (April 1974)



Herbert Eugene Bolton (1870 – 1953) was an American historian who pioneered the study of the Spanish-American borderlands and was a prominent authority on Spanish American history. A student of Frederick Jackson Turner, Bolton disagreed with his mentor's Frontier Theory and argued that the history of the Americas is best understood by taking a holistic view and trying to understand the ways in which the different colonial and precolonial contexts have interacted to produce the modern United States. He originated what became known as the Bolton Theory of the history of the Americas which holds that it is impossible to study the history of the United States in isolation from the histories of other American nations, and wrote or co-authored 94 works.  The height of his career was spent at the University of California, Berkeley where he served as chair of the history department for 22 years and is widely credited with making the renowned Bancroft Library the preeminent research center what it is today. Source: Thrapp, Dan L. "Bolton, Herbert Eugene" Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography. Vol. I, Glendale, Calif: A.H. Clark Co, 1988. from the Handbook of Texas Online.

Donald C. Cutter (1922-2014) Western American Historian Donald C. Cutter was the 14th historian to serve as President of the Western History Association, 1975-1976. Dr. Cutter became assistant and then associate professor of history at the University of Southern California (1951-1961). He spent the bulk of his teaching career as Professor of History at the University of New Mexico (1962-1982). After retiring from the University of New Mexico as an Emeritus Professor, Dr. Cutter was Distinguished Chair of Spanish History and Texas Borderlands at Saint Mary’s University, San Antonio (1982-1989) and was named O’Connor Professor Emeritus. Born in Chico, California on January 9, 1922, Dr. Cutter received his A.B. in Spanish from the University of California (1945), and spent three year in the Pacific Theater during WWII aboard the U.S.S. Pecos. He returned to California at the end of the war, and earned an M.A. in History (1947) and a Ph.D. in History with a minor in Anthropology (1950), both from the University of California. The author of numerous articles, book reviews, and more than a dozen books, Dr. Cutter is best known for The Writings of Mariano Payeras, published by the Academy of American Franciscan History (1995) for which he received the Norman Neuberg Award for Distinguished Research and Writing in Early California History. Other books include, Malaspina in California (J. Howell,1960), California in 1792: a Spanish naval visit (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), and Malaspina & Galiano: Spanish voyages to the Northwest Coast, 1791 & 1792 (University of Washington Press, 1991). Most recently, Dr. Cutter contributed “Recuerdos de mi Museo Favorito” to the Navigare Necesse Est. Estudios de Historia Marítima en honor de Lola Higueras Edición, Fundación Alvargonzález, 2008. Sources: Directory of American Scholars, Eighth Edition, Volume I (New York: R.R. Bowker Company,1982); interviews with Dr. Donald C. Cutter, November 29, 2011, December 2, 2011. Authored by: Nawana Britenriker, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

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