The Chester P. Middlesworth Awards

Manuscripts researchThe Chester P. Middlesworth Awards

The Middlesworth Awards were established to encourage and recognize excellence of analysis, research and writing by Duke University students in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.  The awards are granted annually to the authors of the best undergraduate and graduate student papers. Funding for the awards was provided by Chester P. Middlesworth (A.B., 1949) of Statesville, N.C.

Award Details

  • There are two awards, one for an undergraduate and one for a graduate student.
  • Each award carries a cash prize of $1,000. 
  • Other submissions may be eligible for a runner-up prize in each category.
  • The committee reserves the right to declare a tie and split the pooled prizes between two authors in a category or, in the absence of suitable submissions, to make fewer awards.

Submission Guidelines

  • Students must write the paper for a course in an academic department at Duke University or for an independent study project for credit at Duke University.  
  • Acceptable paper types are the following:  an analytical essay, a creative essay, a research paper or an edited, annotated version of one or more documents with a narrative introduction.  
  • To be considered for the award, a paper must be based largely or wholly on sources in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and must be nominated by an a faculty member or instructor.  Faculty and instructors should use this nomination form to nominate a student.
  • There is no minimum or maximum length requirement for papers. 
  • Students must double-space their papers and format them with standard margins. 
  • Students must submit one clean copy (without writer’s name, course, professor, grade or marginal notes), accompanied by a completed faculty nomination form, to the Director of Research Services at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
  • Awards will be made each fall for papers submitted for courses or credits taken during the previous academic year. 
  • Deadline for submissions is May 15.

Selection Criteria

  • A committee, consisting of the Director of Research Services at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and two faculty members, judges the papers.
  • Committee members look especially at the degree and effectiveness of the author’s use of Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript materials.
  • Other criteria include clarity and persuasiveness of the paper’s thesis, excellence of writing style, quality of analysis and interpretation, integration of research findings with broader scholarship, originality and thoroughness of documentation.
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