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Justin G. Schiller Prize

Endowed by Justin G. Schiller, a dealer in antiquarian children’s books and past member of the BSA Council, the Schiller Prize for Bibliographical Work on Pre-20th-Century Children’s Books is intended to encourage scholarship in the bibliography of historical children’s books. It brings a cash award of $3,000 and a year’s membership in the Society.

2022 Schiller Prize: Winner & Honorable Mention

The 2022 Justin G. Schiller Prize for Bibliographical Work on Pre-20th-Century Children’s Books is awarded to Hannah Field, a professor at the University of Sussex for Playing with the Book: Victorian Movable Picture Books and the Child Reader published by University of Minnesota Press in 2019.  This is a sophisticated study, playfully intersecting between the history of the book, visual culture, cultural history, literary history, and art history into one narrative forcefully making the case for movable books as profound cultural artifacts not just because of the way that they are put together but how they interact with child readers.  Field’s study essentially stretches the history of the book and crosses the divide between books and ephemera, children’s books, and toys, verbal/visual and tactile.

The Schiller Prize Committee also awarded an honorable mention to Shawna McDermott, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and now a visiting professor at the University of St. Andrews for her 2020 dissertation Visualizing the Future: Childhood, Race, and Imperialism in Children’s Magazines, 1873-1939.”  Her dissertation studied the portrayal of race in the periodicals Our Young Folks, Wide Awake, Babyland, John Martin’s Book, and The Brownies’ Book.  Ms. McDermott did wonderful work on unearthing the message and historical underpinnings of The Brownie’s Book as the main source of countering messages to those of white supremacy made by the  other titles.  It is an ambitious dissertation that engages readers across the fields of children’s literature, childhood studies, African American studies, visual culture and the history of science.

Past Winners

The 2019 winner was Maroussia Oakley for her book The Book and Periodical Illustrations of Arthur Hughes: A Spark of Genius 1832-1914Oak Knoll Press & Private Libraries Association, 2016.

The 2016 winners were Andrea Immel and Brian Alderson for their book Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song-Book: The First Collection of English Nursery Rhymes.

The 2013 winner was Kyle B. Roberts for his essay “Rethinking The New-England Primer.”


Applying for the Schiller Prize

The next Schiller Prize will be awarded at the Society’s 2025 Annual Meeting.  Works put into nomination, which must be in English, may concentrate on any children’s book printed before the year 1901 in any country or any language. Submissions should involve research into bibliography and printing history broadly conceived and should focus on the physical book as historical evidence for studying topics such as the history of book production, publication, distribution, collecting, or reading. Studies of the printing, publishing, and allied trades, as these relate to children’s books, are also welcome.


If a publication has an incorrect nominal date disqualifying it for submission but an actual date of publication within the prize period, it may be nominated with a letter by the publisher or editor testifying to the actual date of publication. Unpublished dissertations and theses must be accompanied by a letter from the director attesting their approval. All scholars are eligible to apply for the Schiller Prize without regard to membership in the Bibliographical Society of America or any other society, and without regard to citizenship or academic affiliation, degree, or rank. The prize will be awarded to the author of a particular work of scholarship without regard to the author’s prolonged or repeated contributions to the field. Since the prize is designed to promote research on the bibliography of children’s books, applications are encouraged from young or junior scholars who have not as yet published extensively. Applicants may nominate themselves or be nominated by others, including publishers, journal editors, and dissertation or thesis directors.

Eligible scholarship may take the form of a published book or article, a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation that has been defended and approved, or research results distributed in another manner, such as on a website. Eligible scholarship must have been published, approved, or posted between 1 January 2019 and 1 October 2021. Nominations, with copies of the monographs, PDF copies of articles, and/or links to websites, must be completed by 15 October 2021. 

How to Apply

Applications must contain the following items:

  1. a letter of intent addressed to the “Schiller Prize Committee,”
  2. a one-page curriculum vitae,
  3. any documentation regarding the approval of a thesis or a dissertation or confirming the date of a publication, if required.

Web-based nominations must include a URL, and free access to the website and instructions regarding its use must be offered, along with a statement regarding plans for maintaining and/or archiving the website. This information should be included in the letter of intent (#1 above). Applications and all materials should be submitted by email to

Please also secure delivery of four (4) print copies of the nominated work to:
Erin McGuirl
Executive Director, Bibliographical Society of America
67 West Street, Suite 401 #C17
Brooklyn, NY 11222

If for any reason the cost of securing review copies is prohibitive to submitting a nomination, please contact Erin McGuirl, BSA Executive Director, by email at

Questions regarding the award should be addressed to the Schiller Prize Jury Chair, Laura E. Wasowiczaura at