Hiester Award Competition

The 2019 William and Elizabeth Hiester Manuscript Competition

The Berks History Center is pleased to announce that the 2019 Hiester Manuscript Competition is now open. The winner will receive a $250 cash award and have his/her essay published in a future issue of The Historical Review of Berks County.

Competition Rules: 

  • Any subject pertaining to Berks County’s history, material culture, culture heritage or people is eligible Scholarly research papers, popular histories, or personal memoirs are welcome.
  • The manuscript must be original, previously unpublished and written in English.
  • Only one manuscript per author may be submitted per annual competition.
  • Manuscripts are limited to a maximum of 2000 words. All others will be disqualified.
  • The manuscript must be set in 12 point font [Times New Roman preferred], normal margins of 1” right and left, top and bottom and submitted in digital format on CD or email as an attachment. Microsoft Word 2007 or more current versions preferred. Corel WordPerfect or other plain text and rich text files are acceptable.
  • The manuscript shall bear the author’s name only, which is masked before judging. Headers and footers shall contain no marks of identification such as letterheads, pictures, and references to institutions, companies, or other clues to the author’s identity. Such identification will disqualify the manuscript.
  • Once submitted, a manuscript cannot be withdrawn, revised and re-entered. Authors wishing to withdraw their manuscripts from the competition before judging takes place must do so in writing.
  • All manuscripts submitted to the competition become the property of the Berks History Center and will not be returned. Authors are asked to please retain personal copies.

Deadline for entry is May 15, 2019 and those received after that date will be disqualified.

The contest is open to all members of The Berks History Center and while not a requirement to enter, non-members are encouraged to join.

Entry Format:  Please include the following information with your digital submission:

Name [s] of author [co authors], Contact address-both physical and email, Telephone number, Title of manuscript

Mail CDs to: Berks History Center, 940 Centre Ave, Reading, Pennsylvania 19601

Email submissions (preferred) to:  hiesterawards@berkshistory.org

Judging Criteria: Manuscripts are judged by members of the editorial board. Judges will evaluate the papers by considering:

  • Relevancy to Berks County’s history, material culture, cultural heritage or people
  • Originality and contribution to the body of knowledge of above.
  • Appeal and interest of the manuscript.
  • Amount of research involved.
  • Basic grammar, composition, form and writing style, readability and flow.
  • Only the writing is evaluated, accompanying illustrative materials are not considered by the judges but are encouraged if manuscript is chosen as the winner and is published.

Publication Policy:  Winning articles will be published during the following year. Some manuscripts may be held for publication for an indefinite period. Authors wishing to withdraw their manuscripts from consideration for publication in the Historical Review are asked to do so in writing. Manuscripts must be withdrawn prior to publication in any other periodical. The editorial board reserves the right to edit any article chosen for publication in the Historical Review.

Copyright Policy:  Our copyright policy provides for one-time publication of material in the Historical Review of Berks County. We retain the right to reproduce any article published in the Historical Review on BHC’s website. We request that authors refrain from republishing articles that have appeared in the Historical Review for a period of at least one year and on republication include the notation: “This article was previously published in the Historical Review of Berks County and cite the issue volume, number and year.

Award:  The winner will receive a $250 cash award. There is only one winner and the committee reserves the right to withhold the award if judging criteria are not met.

For a printable version, please click HIESTER AWARD 2019

The “Hiester Award,” Since 1992

When the inaugural William Muhlenberg Hiester Manuscript Competition was announced in 1992, the Historical Society of Berks County pledged a $500 prize for the winning entry.

Daniel B. Hoffman, a columnist for the Reading Eagle, heralded what became known as the “Hiester Award.”

“The competition is open to anyone. Special attention is directed to local college students, and college and high school history teachers,” he noted. “The essay contest is intended to help fill a void created by shrinkage of history classes in public schools, particularly classes that deal with state and local history. Ironically, classroom interest in history is fading during an era when evidence points to increasing in their roots, as well as the origins of our American society in general.”

Hoffman wrote that in 1992.

Many years have passed since then, and many changes have taken place.

The Historical Society is now the Berks History Center, the prize is now a “true” $250 in cash, instead of a $500 U.S. Savings Bond (purchased for $250), and the prize now carries the names of both William and Elizabeth Hiester. But, the need to encourage young people to explore local history and heritage continues to be important. The Berks History Center is prepared to fill that need.

The competition was established by Elizabeth (Betty) Hiester in honor of her husband, who died in 1990. Betty passed away in 2001. Both were active in many civic and charitable organizations, and both served lengthy and honorable terms as trustees of the Historical Society. A 1928 graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, Mr. Hiester and former Reading Times sports editor Shandy Hill founded the Mercury newspaper in that borough in 1931 and Hiester was its publisher until he retired in 1967.

The first winner (1992) of the Hiester Award was Corinne P. Earnest, of Damascus, Maryland. Out of seven submissions, her “Fraktur Scriveners of Berks County” manuscript was the unanimous selection of the judges.