The John Tracy Ellis
Dissertation Award

The Ellis Dissertation Award at a Glance

Please be sure to consult the submission rules and the rest of the information on this page for the full award requirements.
What it is:
The Ellis Dissertation Award is awarded to a doctoral student in the field of Catholic Studies with a promising, but not-yet-completed dissertation.
Who is eligible:
Any U.S.- or Canada-based doctoral student with all-but-dissertation (ABD) status.
Winner announced:
Fall 2024
Submission instructions:
Many materials, in addition to the online form, are required. Please see the full requirements below.

Submission deadline: extended to May 1, 2024

FOR PROFESSORS/ADVISORS ONLY: Send letters of recommendation and confirmation of ABD status.

Required Materials

The online application form with your information.

A statement from the chairperson (or director of graduate studies) of the applicant’s department certifying that he or she has completed all the degree requirements for the doctorate except for the dissertation, and has received departmental approval to undertake work on a dissertation topic dealing with some aspect of the history of the Catholic Church.

This statement should be submitted by the chairperson using the materials submission form.

A statement written by the applicant, not exceeding 1,000 words in length, describing the dissertation project and the way in which the award would be used to further its completion.

Please submit this via the online application form as a Word or PDF attachment.

Two letters of recommendation from scholars familiar with the applicant’s work, one of whom must be his or her dissertation director.

This statement should be submitted by the letter writers using the materials submission form.

A sample chapter of the dissertation, or a segment thereof, not exceeding 25 pages. 

Please submit this via the online application form as a PDF attachment.

About the Ellis Dissertation Award

The John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award memorializes the scholarship and teaching of Monsignor Ellis (1905-1992). Its purpose is to assist a graduate student working on some aspect of the history of the Catholic Church.

Any author who is a citizen or authorized resident (e.g., permanent resident or student-visa holder) of the United States or Canada is eligible. The award consists of $1,500.

Prize Committee


Jennifer Scheper Hughes
University of California, Riverside

[email protected]


Ralph Keen
University of Illinois Chicago

[email protected]


Peter Cajka
University of Notre Dame

[email protected]

Submission Rules

The general rules for submission are:

  1. The student must be a citizen or authorized resident (e.g., permanent resident or student-visa holder) of the United States or Canada.
  2. The student must be enrolled in a doctoral program at a recognized institution of higher education.
  3. The student must have completed all degree requirements for a doctoral degree except for the dissertation, and have received departmental approval to undertake work on a dissertation topic dealing with some aspect of the history of the Catholic Church.
  4. All completed application materials must be received by the submission deadline.

Past Winners

2024Natalię Gasparowicz “Contests over Contraction in Late 20th Century Mexico”Duke University
2023Richard T. Yoder“Unorthodox Flesh: Gender, Religious Convulsions, and Charismatic Knowledge in Early Modern France”Pennsylvania State University
2022Glauco Schettini“The Catholic Counter-Revolution: A Global Intellectual History, 1780s-1840s.”Fordham University
2021Mitchell E. Oxford“The French Revolution and the Making of an American Catholicism 1789 through 1870.”College of William and Mary
2020Stephen M. Koeth, C.S.C.“The Suburban Church: Catholic Parishes and Politics in Metropolitan New York, 1945-1985”Columbia University
2019Elisabeth Davis
“The Centralization Controversy: Nuns, Bishops, and the Development of the American Catholic Church, 1800-1865”
University at Buffalo
2018Sean Rost“A Call to Citizenship: Anti-Klan Activism in Missouri, 1921-1928”University of Missouri
2017Jennifer Binczewski “Solitary Sparrows: Widowhood and the Catholic Community in Post-Reformation
Washington State University
2016Jennifer Callaghan“Critical Mass: The Fall and Rise of Latin in the long U.S. Catholic Liturgical Movement”Northwestern University
2015Emily Floyd“Matrices of Devotion: Lima’s Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Devotional Prints and Local Religion in the Viceroyalty of Peru.”Tulane University
2014Amanda Scott“The Basque Seroras: Local Religion, Gender, and Power, 1550–1800.”Washington University in St. Louis
2013Benjamin D. Reed“Devotion to Saint Philip Neri in Colonial Mexico City.”University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2012Matthew J. Cressler“To Be Black and Catholic: African American Catholics in Chicago
from the Great Migrations to Black Power,”
Northwestern University
2011Shannen Dee Williams“Black Nuns and the Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America after
World War I”
Rutgers University
2010Kate E. Bush “Sorelle mie: The Sermons of Caterina Vigri and Franciscan Observant Reform”The Catholic University of America
2009Bronwen Catherine McShea“Cultivating Empire through Print: The Jesuit Strategy for New France and the Parisian
Relations of 1632 to 1673”
Yale University
2008Christine Dunn“Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Francis: Condemning the Heresy of the spiritus libertatis in Late
Medieval Italy”
Indiana University
2007Kathleen Holscher“Habits in the Classroom: A Court Case Regarding Catholic Sisters in New Mexico”Princeton University
2007Steven Turley “Franciscan Missions and Eremitic Spirituality”University of Wisconsin-Madison
2006Scott Marr “Urban Encounters and the Religious Divide: Catholic-Protestant Coexistence in Saumur, France,
Boston University
2005Brenda Gardenour“Medicine and Miracle: The Reception of Theory-Rich Medicine in the Hagiography of the Latin
West, 13th–14th Centuries”
Boston University
2004Janine Larmon Peterson“Contested Sanctity: Disputed Saints, Inquisitors, and Communal Identity in
Northern Italy, 1250–1440”
Indiana University
2003Jordan Stanger-Ross “The Choreography of Community: Italian Ethnicity in Postwar Toronto and Philadelphia”University of Pennsylvania
2002Jana L. Byars“Concubines and Concubinage in Early Modern Venice”Penn State University
2001Tatyana V. Bakhmetyeva “Madama Swetchine, ‘Mother of the Church’: A Case Study of Religion, Identity, and Female Authority in Nineteenth-Century France and Russia”University of Rochester
2000James P. Daughton“The Civilizing Mission: Missionaries, Colonialists, and French Identity,
University of California-Berkeley
1999Jeffrey T. Zalar “Knowledge and Nationalism in Imperial Germany: A Cultural History of the Association of St.
Charles Borromeo, 1890–1914”
Georgetown University
1998Julia Boss Knapp “Relating New France: Catholic Church and the Project of Cultural Translation, 1610–1760”Yale University