A New Chapter in Society History:
The Institut Français d’Amérique Becomes Part of the SFHS
27 March 2017
The Society for French Historical Studies is pleased to announce the signing of an agreement that will, in effect, fold the venerable Institut Français d’Amérique into the SFHS. Founded in December 1926 as the Institut Français de Washington, under the leadership of Thomas H. Healy, Louis T. Rouleau, and James Brown Scott, who became its first president, the IFA was dedicated to promoting the study of French civilization, history, literature, and art in the United States, and preserving the history of French missionaries, educators, explorers, settlers, scholars, and artists in North America. The Institut established several awards to encourage the work of scholars in these areas: the Gilbert Chinard Historical Prize, awarded annually to the best American book on the history of French-American relations (on the recommendation of a committee charged by the SFHS); the Harmon Chadbourn Rorison Prize, the Edouard Morot-Sir Fellowship in French Literature; and the Gilbert Chinard research fellowships, awarded annually to doctoral candidates and untenured junior professors who need funds to underwrite research in France on French culture and history. In pursuit of these goals, the IFW (now the IFA) has benefited from many donations and gifts. A bequest of $50,000 from the Chicago industrialist Henry C. Morris in 1972 was of particular importance to the continuation of the Institute’s endeavors.
The agreement signed with the Society for French Historical Studies will allow the IFA to continue its good work under the auspices of the SFHS. The essence of this new relationship will see the monies of the Institute transferred to a fund under the control of the Society, and to which the Society will add further monies. The IFA fund thereby constituted will be disbursed for two purposes. First, it will continue to contribute one half the award for the annual Gilbert Chinard Book Prize, the criteria for which will remain unchanged. Second, the new IFA fund will provide support advanced graduate students and early-career, untenured faculty working on French history and culture, who need to do research in France, though the provision of two research fellowships annually. Responsibility for selecting the recipients will fall to the Society’s Research and Travel Award Committee. Furthermore, these fellowships will, on an alternating basis, be named, in the one case, the Gilbert Chinard Fellowship or the Harmon Chadbourn Rorison Fellowship; and in the other, the Edouard Morot-Sir Fellowship or the Catherine Maley Fellowship. In the not-too-distant future, the SFHS website will include a brief biographical note about each of these individuals, along with announcements about the prizes and, subsequently, the names and affiliations of the winners. The website will also contain a brief summary of the history and achievements of the IFA.