The Pennsylvania Historical Association (PHA) annually bestows the William A. Pencak Award for the best undergraduate research paper about Pennsylvania and/or Mid-Atlantic history.

The award, named for Bill Pencak (1951–2013), a prolific scholar and much-loved Penn State University history professor and former Editor of Pennsylvania History, honors the academic year’s best written undergraduate paper in history and history-related fields such as archeology, museum studies, archives, and historic preservation.*

The Pencak Award includes a certificate from the PHA for high achievement in Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic history, a cash award of $150, and an opportunity for publication consideration on the Association’s website or in its journal, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. Award recipients are encouraged to attend the PHA’s annual conference in the fall, but the winner is not required to attend in order to receive the award.

For previous examples, see the award page featuring past recipients’ papers.

Submission Guidelines

►Formal, original, completed scholarly research papers on any subject in the history of Pennsylvania and/or the mid-Atlantic are welcome. Papers must be a minimum of 5,000 words of text (about 15 pages) and a maximum of 10,000 words (about 25-30 pages), double-spaced and using Times New Roman, 12-point font. Scholarly methods should include endnotes (not footnotes) and should conform to the most recent edition Chicago Manual of Style. A review panel of historians will evaluate the overall quality of the scholarship, including historiography, methodology, argumentation, and readability.

►Papers must have been written by undergraduate students attending colleges or universities during the academic year 2023–2024.

►For submission, papers must be NOMINATED BY AND SUBMITTED BY THE PROFESSOR(S) for whose course students wrote the paper, professors who mentored the research, or professors who served as readers. Students may not nominate their own papers, nor can they submit their own papers. Submissions are only considered if sent by professors. Nominated papers should be based on original, archival sources and be truly outstanding in their contributions to historical knowledge.

Submission deadline, June 30, 2024. Professors should submit papers for nomination by email only to Laurie Rofini, Pencak Prize Coordinator at: The nomination packet MUST include the following: 1) letter of nomination by the faculty member and 2) a Word copy (not pdf) of the paper being nominated.

* Donations to the award fund can be made on the PHA’s website or be sent to Sarah Piccini, Business Secretary, P.O. Box 20011, Scranton, PA 18503