Stillwell Prize

Margaret B. Stillwell Prize 2020-2021

Win CASH for building your book collection!

In 1983 the John Russell Bartlett Society established an annual prize competition open to undergraduates at any Rhode Island college or university in order to stimulate the interest of students in books as objects of craft or art, as well as a medium for esteemed texts.

The contest is named in 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.

More than an assemblage, a collection must have an organizing principle. This can be on any subject, theme, or particular emphasis—as in bibliographical features such as edition, conditions of manufacture, illustration, type, calligraphy, binding, etc. All types of physical books and pamphlets may be included, as long as their place in the collection can be justified.

Any undergraduate of a Rhode Island college or university who wishes to compete will please contact the Chair of the Stillwell Prize, Kate Wodehouse (, or the Bartlett Society’s general address (

Entries will be accepted between September 1, 2020 and March 30, 2021.

The final competition and judging is TBA (place and time), but will be held in mid-April of 2021.


Before entering, contestants are strongly encouraged to contact the Stillwell Prize chair.

  1. The competition is open to all undergraduates currently enrolled in Rhode Island colleges and universities.
  2. Written entries (essay and bibliography) must be submitted by March 30, 2021 to Kate Wodehouse (
  3. A collection may focus on any subject or theme. All items must have been collected by the competitor.
  4. There are two phases to the competition:

WRITTEN ENTRY: An essay of at least 1,000 words describing the theme of your collection, the history of its formation, and your future plans for it, AND an annotated bibliography of a representative selection of not more than 50 items. Email submissions as attachments in Word or PDF format (images imbedded or as separate attachments in JPEG format), with the following information in the body of your message to the Stillwell Prize chair: your name, institution, and local mailing address.

ORAL PRESENTATION: Each finalist will exhibit a sample of the collection (no more than 15 items) at the final judging, either in person or virtually, and will give 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.

  1. There shall be no more than 6 finalists in a given year. JRBS will give monetary prizes (amounts to be determined) to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.
  2. First prize winners are not eligible for future competitions, but 2nd and 3rd place winners may enter again if they present a new or substantially improved collection.