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St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize

Funded by the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, this prize encourages scholarship in the bibliography of American history and literature. Awarded every three years, the prize brings a cash award of $2,000 and a year’s membership in the Society. The next prize will be awarded in January 2026; submissions will open in June 2025.

Submissions & Eligibility

Submissions for the Mercantile Library Prize should concentrate on some aspect of American history and culture in territories that now comprise the United States, or on literature by American authors, or literature intended for publication in territories that now comprise the United States. They should involve research in bibliography and printing history broadly conceived and focus on the book (the physical object) 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 American history and literature, are also welcome.


Submissions may take the form of a published book or article, a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation defended and approved, or research results distributed in another manner, such as the website.

Submissions must have been published or, if a dissertation or thesis, approved the year of the deadline or in the three previous calendar years. For the 2026 award, this means between January 2023 and January 2026. 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 Unpublished dissertations and theses must be accompanied by a letter from the director attesting their approval.

Scholars are eligible to apply for the 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. Applications are encouraged from young or junior scholars who have not as yet published extensively. Applicants may nominate themselves or be nominated by others.

How to Apply

Please send the following as separate PDF or Word (.doc or .docx) files to Mailed print copies of these documents will not be accepted. To assure consideration, applications must be received by 3 October, 2022.

  1. A one-page letter of intent addressed to the “Mercantile Prize Committee” describing your submission and its relevance to bibliographical study,
  2. a one-page curriculum vitae, and,
  3. if required, any documentation regarding the approval of a thesis or a dissertation, or confirming the date of a publication.

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).

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

Other questions regarding the award should be addressed to the Mercantile Library Prize Coordinator:

John N. Hoover
John Neal Hoover Endowed Mercantile Library Executive Directorship
St. Louis Mercantile Library Association