top of page

Essay Prizes

In 2017, in response to the Royal Historical Society and BAAS reports on race, ethnicity, diversity and inclusion across historical studies, the SASA Committee decided that we could do more to address the issues facing the discipline.  Thus, the Ellen Craft Essay Prize was born. The prize is aimed at postgraduate students, and its success spurred us on to create a further two prizes. In 2021 we launched the Sophia-Jex Blake Essay Prize, which is aimed at Scottish secondary school students. Finally, in 2022, we added our third prize: The Marcella LaBeau Prize for Scottish Undergraduate students.

The Prompt

Write an essay on a topic relating to women, gender or minority studies within the Americas.


SASA recognises a broad definition of the Americas and includes anything situated within North, South or Latin America, at any point in history.

Sophia Jex-Blake Essay Prize

Submission Opens: 3 August 2022

Submission Closes: 1 November  2022

The Sophia Jex-Blake Essay Prize is awarded to a student aged 15 to 18 who attends a Scottish secondary school. 

Essays should be 800-1200 excluding a bibliography. 

Screenshot 2021-08-17 at 13.36.53.png

The namesake of this prize, Sophia Jex-Blake, was a champion of education and equality. She travelled extensively within the United States and worked at the New England Woman’s Hospital. In 1869, after years of rejected applications, she, and six others, matriculated at the University of Edinburgh - becoming the first women admitted to study medicine in the UK.  The women experienced extreme discrimination and, after completing their coursework and exams, the University refused to grant them degrees.  Jex-Blake continued to advocate for women’s education and practice medicine for the rest of her life, going on to found two women’s medical schools and become the first female practicing physician in Edinburgh.



  • 2 students in S5 from Eyemouth High School. Taught by Miss Riddell. 

  • 1 student in S6 from Boroughmuir High School. Taught by Miss Robb. 



  • 2 students in S5 from Eyemouth High School. Taught by Miss Riddell. 

  • 1 student in S6 from Boroughmuir High School. Taught by Miss Robb. 

Marcella LeBeau Essay Prize

Submission Opens: 19 September 2022

Submission Closes: 9 January 2023

The Undergraduate Americanist Essay Prize is awarded to an undergrad who attends a Scottish University. 

Essays should be 1,500-2,500 words in length, including references but excluding a bibliography. 


2022: Connall MacLennan

“Squeezing the Orange Juice Queen: The Gay Boycott of Anita Bryant’s Florida Citrus Products and the Creation of National Queer Activism"

LeBeau Native American Hall of Fame.jpg

The namesake of this prize, Marcella Rose Ryan LeBeau (1919-2021), of the Two Kettle Band of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, served in the Second World War in the US Army Nurse Corps, and attained the rank of First Lieutenant.  Upon return home, LeBeau worked as a registered nurse and health advocate, serving on the tribal council, and making her reservation one of the first smoke-free settlements in the US. LeBeau played a key role in the repatriation of a ghost dance shirt which had been given to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Gallery by an interpreter of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1892.  In the last years of her life, LeBeau defended her nation’s prerogative to operate health check points during the Covid-19 pandemic, and supported the US Congress’ Remove the Stain Bill to rescind the medals given to military personnel who participated in the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Screenshot 2021-06-21 at 12.29_edited.jpg

The namesake of this prize, Ellen Craft, fled slavery in 1848. Dressed as a white, male slaveholder, Ellen, along with her husband dressed as her slave, escaped across 1000 miles of slave states to freedom. Following their escape, the couple travelled to the UK where they gave a series of lectures on their lives as slaves and their journey. The creators of this award found Ellen Craft a fitting namesake. Her often forgotten story is emblematic of the type of scholarship this award hopes to promote.

Ellen Craft Essay Prize

Submission Opens: 15 May 2023 

Submission Closes: 25 September 2023

The Ellen Craft Essay Prize is awarded annually to the best essay by a graduate student or early-career researcher. 

Essays should be 3000-4000 words in length, including references but excluding a bibliography. 

Previous Winners

2021: Jack Hodgson

“#boysdancetoo: Ballet, (Toxic) Masculinity, and Boyhood in modern America'

2020: Katie Arthur

Essay: ‘Arousing Disgust: Visceral Configurations of Obscenity through Literary, Literal, and Governmental Bodies in William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (1957)’

2019: Rebecca Macklin 

Essay: ‘Natural Bodies, Unnatural Violence: Animacy Hierarchies in Narratives of Violence against Indigenous Women.’

bottom of page