CHS Book Award

          2017 Submissions Now Open
Call for Manuscripts—July 1, 2017 Deadline

About the Contest

New California Writing 2013 launch at CHS

The California Historical Society (CHS) and Heyday have established the California Historical Society Book Award for a book-length manuscript that makes an important contribution to both scholarship and to the greater community by deepening public understanding of some aspect of California history. The prize carries a $5,000 advance and publication in both print and e-book formats by CHS/Heyday, with an awards ceremony and ample promotion.

The purpose of the award is to recognize and promote an exciting new literary work in celebration of California’s heritage. The ideal manuscript will inform the minds and delight the imaginations of readers while generating a deeper understanding of California’s rich history. The work must adhere to high scholarly and literary standards and must be lively and engaging to general readers. In addition to conventional works of historical scholarship, other genres will be considered, such as biographies, collections of letters or essays, and creative nonfiction. Works of fiction will not be accepted.


  • The topic should be broad enough to be of interest to readers throughout the state.
  • Authors with manuscripts that will be completed within four months of the submission deadline are welcome to apply.
  • Manuscripts, when finished, should be at least 40,000 words. While we are open to other possibilities, preference will be given to manuscripts of fewer than 75,000 words.

How to Apply

Applications are due by July 1, 2017. Please send the following material to in a single PDF:

  • A cover letter introducing yourself and your qualifications.
  • A brief description of your project.
  • An annotated table of contents.
  • A statement as to the need or desirability of photographs, maps, or other graphics with examples.
  • If the manuscript is not yet completed, a statement that describes what has been done and a schedule for what still needs to be finished.
  • A sample chapter (double-spaced, standard font and font size).
The jury will consist of a panel of noted historians, scholars, and publishing experts. Potential candidates may be contacted for additional information. The winner will be announced by September 4, 2017. Publication will be approximately one year after a fully completed manuscript and all graphics are accepted.
For more information, contact
Previous Winners of the California Historical Society Book Award

2017—Rebel Lawyer: Wayne Collins and the Defense of Japanese American Rights by Charles Wollenberg

2016—The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles by Thomas Pinney

2015—Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute by Ivy Anderson and Devon Angus

2014—Game Changers: Twelve Elections that Transformed California by Steve Swatt, Susie Swatt, Jeff Raimundo, and Rebecca LaVally

2013—Under Spring: Voices+Art+Los Angeles by Jeremy Rosenberg

About the California Historical Society
The California Historical Society (CHS) is a 140-year-old, nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California’s richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives. We hold one of the top research collections on California history, which includes over 35,000 volumes of books and pamphlets, more than 4,000 manuscripts, and some 500,000 photographs documenting California’s social, cultural, economic, and political history and development, including some of the most cherished and valuable documents and images of California’s past.