Open to all University of Minnesota Students

This award is offered each year by the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library in honor of former Bell Library curator, Carol Urness. It comes with a certificate and a cash award of $100.00.

Entry Requirements:

  • Current student status at the University of Minnesota
  • Papers must be based on at least one primary source document from the James Ford Bell Library, and topics should be relevant to the Bell collection.
  • Papers must be at least 10 but no more than 30 pages in length, including footnotes or end notes, but not illustrative materials.
  • All papers must by double spaced, using a 12 point serif non-italic font. All pages must be numbered.
  • All papers must be submitted with a cover sheet that contains the following information: Your name, student ID#, college status (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, MA student, Ph.D. student, etc.), mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. Your name must not appear on any other pages of the paper to facilitate blind judging.

Judging Criteria

  • Originality
  • Cogency of the presentation and the documentation
  • Literary quality

The essay's contribution to the field of study also will be considered. In the case of a tie, two prizes may be given; if no essay is judged to be appropriate or sufficiently meritorious, the Associates reserve the right to make no award.


Submit papers as e-mail attachments to:
Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, curator

N.B.: Submission to this contest does not preclude submission to other competitions, such as History Day or the Society for the History of Discoveries' Student Prize. It is assumed that the papers submitted to this contest also may be submitted as part of a class assignment.

IMPORTANT: Submission to this contest grants the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library and the University of Minnesota the right to announce you as the winner of the contest in their promotional literature and on their Web sites.
Questions? Contact the curator at or 612/624-6895.

Award Recipients

2002 Rushika Hage, Maria de Lourdes Mills, Sylvia Suarez
2003 Matthew Levin, Paul Brinkman, Michael Ziomko
2004 Anne Good, Jamie Stephenson
2006 Mathew H. Voss
2008 Steve Grey, Gabriel Hill, Heather McNeff
2010 Brian Tridgell, Bryal Karban, Rachel Gibson
2013 Matthew King, Joshua Marcotte
2015 Jonas Erickson