Robert M. Utley Prize

The Western History Association announces the Robert M. Utley Book Prize to be given annually for the best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America (including Mexico and Canada) from prehistory through the twentieth century. The award grants $500 to the author and a certificate to the publisher. The prize is supported by contributions from publishers and individuals, and administered by the Western History Association.

Books published in 2020 are eligible for submission. While the formal process requires presses/journals to submit the work of their authors, the WHA strongly recommends that authors check with the award committee chair a week before the deadline to see if they received a copy of their work. Publishers may submit more than one title from their list. Publishers or authors should submit a letter of nomination and a copy of the book to each member of the award committee listed below. 

-2021 Awards Cycle opens January 25, 2021

-2021 Award Submission (Postmark) Deadline: April 15, 2021

The WHA office sends award notifications in August. View a list of past recipients.

Ari Kelman, Chair

University of California, Davis

1912 Arena Drive

Davis, CA 95618

Shannon Smith

thinkWY Wyoming Humanities Council

505 N. Elm St.

Gordon, NE 69343

Pekka Hämäläinen

Oxford University

Shannon Smith

thinkWY Wyoming Humanities Council

505 N. Elm St.
Gordon, NE 69343

Robert M. Utley

Robert Marshall Utley (1929-  ) is an American author and historian of the American West. He is a former chief historian for the National Park Service. The following is taken from an article by published in 2010 from the University of Oklahoma Press blog: "Our friend Robert M. Utley has left his mark on western history in ways unmatched by perhaps any other contemporary author. In 1942 at the age of twelve Bob sat mesmerized in a darkened movie theatre watching Errol Flynn channel George Armstrong Custer in They Died with Their Boots On. Thus began a fascination with the West, its legends, and its preservation that has never wavered.

At seventeen his hard-earned savings from after-school work paid for a trip from Indiana to Crow Agency, Montana. Somehow age restrictions were circumvented and, donning the uniform of the National Park Service, he stood on Custer Hill to regale all who came with the story of the iconic 1876 battle. Following college and military service, he joined and quickly moved up the ranks of the National Park Service, where he became chief historian. His work in Washington helped shape the goals of the organization in ways that still resonate. Since his retirement from the NPS in 1980 he has devoted himself to research, writing, consulting and speaking. (Source: Robert Clark, Publisher, Arthur H. Clark Company)

Past Recipients

2020 | Pekka Hämäläinen, Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power (Yale University Press, 2019)

2019 | Mark Santiago, A Bad Peace and a Good War: Spain and the Mescalero Apache Uprising of 1795-1799 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018)

2018 | Peter Guardino for The Dead March: A History of the Mexican American War (Harvard University Press, 2017)

2017 | David Grua for Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (Oxford University Press, 2016)

2016 | Michael McDonnell for Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of North America (Hill and Wang, 2015)

2015 | Boyd Cothran for Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

2014 | Ari Kelman for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013). 

2013 | Amy S. Greenberg for A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (Vintage Books, 2012). 

2012 | No Award Given

2011 | William Chalfant for Hancock's War: Conflict on the Southern Plains (Arthur H. Clarke Company, 2010). 

2010 | Robert Wooster for The American Military Frontiers: The US Army in the West 1783-1900 (University of New Mexico Press, 2009).

2009 | Brian DeLay for War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (Yale University Press, 2008). 

2008 | Robert W. Larson for Gall: Lakota War Chief (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007). 

2007 | Ned Blackhawk for Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West (Harvard University Press, 2006). 

2006 | R. Allen Radbourne for Mickey Free: Apache Captive, Interpreter, and Indian Scout (Arizona Historical Society, 2005). 

2005 | R. Eli Paul for Blue Water Creek and the First Sioux War, 1854-1856 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2004). 

2004 | Jerome A. Greene for Morning Star Dawn: The Powder River Expedition and the Northern Cheyennes, 1876 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003). 

2003 | William A. Dobak and Thomas D. Phillips for The Black Regulars, 1866-1898 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).

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The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas.

The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

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Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860