Stillwell Prize

Margaret B. Stillwell Prize 2019


First $750 / Second $500 / Third $250
April 30, 2019, 6 pm
Hosted by: The John Carter Brown Library

In order to stimulate the interest of students in books and printing, and in all the bibliographical concerns which motivate its members, the John Russell Bartlett Society has established this annual prize competition, open to undergraduates at any Rhode Island college or university. In so doing, the Society honors the memory of Margaret Bingham Stillwell, Brown University Class of 1909, the University’s first woman Professor of Bibliography and a renowned scholar of early printing, with the intent of encouraging students to share her lifelong pleasure in reading and book collecting.

A contestant’s collection may be in any field. It may emphasize some particular interest within a field, or exemplify certain bibliographical features such as edition, issue, and other conditions of manufacture and sale; illustration, type, calligraphy, binding, etc. All types of books, including paperbacks, may be included, as long as their place in the collection can be justified (the inclusion of textbooks is nevertheless discouraged, except in rare cases).

Any undergraduate of a Rhode Island college or university who wishes to compete please see the rules below. For questions contact the Chair of the Stillwell Prize, Holly Snyder (; 401-863-1515).

The deadline for applications is Monday, April 9, 2019.

Email and paper submissions are accepted, email is preferred. Please send the following information to the Stillwell Prize chair: your name, institution, local address, email address, and address include a description of your collection and an annotated bibliography of not more than 50 items.

email submission (preferred):
or mail submission: Stillwell Prize, Box A / John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

The final competition and judging will take place on Tuesday, April 30th, at the John Carter Brown Library, corner of George and Brown streets, Providence, as part of an evening event sponsored by the John Russell Bartlett Society and the Watts Program in the History and Culture of the Book. Students competitors are invited to set up their displays at 5:30 pm. The public is invited for 6 pm.


Before entering, contestants are strongly encouraged to contact the Stillwell Prize chair, Holly Snyder, at the John Hay Library, Brown University (; 401-863-1515).

1. The competition is open to all undergraduates attending Rhode Island colleges and universities.

2. Written entries (essay and bibliography) must be submitted by April 9, 2019.

3. A collection may focus on any subject or theme. All items (or no more than a few) must have been collected by the competitor.

4. There are two phases to the competition:

WRITTEN: Each competitor submits an annotated bibliography of not more than 50 items selected from the collection and a short essay (3-4 pages, double-spaced) describing the creation of the collection and plans for its future development. Annotations in the bibliography should relate each item to the theme of the collection. Finalists are chosen on the basis of these materials.

ORAL: Each finalist exhibits a sample of the collection (no more than 15 items) at the final judging, and gives a 5-minute presentation on the items and future collecting goals. Judges will be looking to see how well the display exemplifies the collection and how articulate the entrant is about the collecting theme.

6. There shall be no more than 6 finalists in a given year.

7. First prize winners are not eligible for future competitions, but runners-up may enter again if they present a new or substantially improved collection.

Written entries (essay and bibliography) must be submitted by April 9, 2019.

List of Past Winners

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