Natalie Zemon Davis has expanded the boundaries of our discipline through more than half a century of path-breaking scholarship.  Born in Detroit in 1928, she received her B.A. from Smith College, her M.A. from Radcliffe, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She married the mathematician Chandler Davis in 1948. Together they raised three children while pursuing busy academic careers. Natalie Davis taught at Brown and the University of Toronto before becoming a Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 and then at Princeton from 1978 to 1996. On her retirement, she returned to Toronto, where Chandler Davis had maintained his career, and continued to work with students and colleagues as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto.

Natalie Davis’s 1959 dissertation, “Protestantism and the Printing Workers of Lyons,” was a pioneering work of social history that moved beyond theories of economics and class to consider the cultural, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of religious choice. Davis continued to focus on groups usually left to the margins of historical writing as she sought to recover the experience of workers, women, and peasants in Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975) and The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), a work subsequently translated into at least twenty-two languages. 


The Natalie Zemon Davis Award

Next Award Deadline: 20 August 2020

The Society for French Historical Studies confers the Natalie Zemon Davis Award for the best paper presented at the annual meeting by a graduate student enrolled in a doctoral program in the United States or Canada.

The award honors Professor Natalie Zemon Davis for her outstanding work as a mentor of graduate students.  It was established through donations from students and colleagues of Professor Davis and from other members of the Society for French Historical Studies.

Submissions should be no longer than 14 pages double-spaced, including all appropriate citations and bibliographical information.  Send your paper as a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment to the chair of the committee.  The prize will be awarded at the business lunch at the 2020 meeting of the SFHS.

Committee Members:

Jennifer Boittin, chair (2020)

Department of French and Francophone Studies
Pennsylvania State University
337 Burrowes Building
University Park, PA 16802 (USA)

Tamara Chaplin (2020)

Department of History
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
309 Gregory Hall MC 466
810 South Wright Street
Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)

Daniel Sherman (2021)

Department of Art and Art History
University of North Carolina
Hanes Art Center, CB 3405
Chapel Hill, NC (USA)

Rebecca Spang (2022)

Department of History
Indiana University
Weatherly Hall, 400 N. Sunrise Drive
Bloomington, IN 47405 (USA)

Donate to the Natalie Davis Prize

Past Winners:

Steven Weber
, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “French Papers, English Politics: Depictions and Translations of Parliamentary Politics and French Political Thought in the 1770s.”
Honorable mention: Nicholas O’Neill, University of Chicago, “Between Merchants and Manufactures: Cultural Authority in the Transition from Merchant to Industrial Capitalism.”

Joseph la Hausse de Lalouvière
, Harvard University, “To Turn an Eye Blind: Testimony and Human Property in the Illegal French Slave Trade.”

Katlyn Carter, Princeton University, “Trying the King in the Name of the People: The Appel au Peuple and Political Representation.”

Jillian SlaightUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison, "'Old Girls': Sexual Immaturity as a Standard of Innocence in Eighteenth-Century French Justice."

Sebastien DoederleinConcordia University, "Not so Republican After All: Expectations and Disappointments in Alsace-Lorraine Before and After November 11, 1918."

Katie Jarvis
University of Wisconsin, Madison, "'Patriotic Discipline': Cloistered Behinds, Public Judgment, and Female Violence in Revolutionary Paris."

Angela Haas
Binghamton University, "Dubious Relics, Unknown Saints, and the Evolution of Lay Piety in Eighteenth-Century France."

Carolyn PurnellUniversity of Chicago, "Instrumental Feeling: The Stable Characteristics of Sensibility, 1740-1789."

James NausSaint Louis University, for "Dynastic Legitimization in Twelfth-Century France."

Marie-Eve ChagnonConcordia University, “L’internationalisme scientifique face à la Grande Guerre : la rupture des relations de la science française et allemande (1914-1919)."

Alexia YatesUniversity of Chicago, "The Business of Housing: Real Estate in Turn-of-the Century Paris."