The Society of Automotive Historians

Richard P. Scharchburg Student Paper Award


In order to encourage research and writing effort among university students in the area of automotive history,the Society confers its annual award for the best student paper in the auto history field.  The award is named for Richard Scharchburg, the late Professor of History at Kettering University, eminent automotive historian, and past vice president of the Society of Automotive Historians. Persons submitting papers must be enrolled at educational institutions (upper-class undergraduate or graduate level) at the time of submission.  This competition is international in scope, but papers must be in the English language.  Papers already published or scheduled for publication will not be accepted.

Manuscripts should not exceed 10,000 words, and should be double-spaced.  An abstract is requested.  Judging criteria include clear statement of purpose and testable hypothesis, accuracy and thoroughness of research, originality of the research, documentation, quality and extent of bibliographic resources, and writing style.  Diagrams, graphs, or photographs may be included.  Submissions are to be electronic, in Word 1997-2003 format or pdf files only, to the e-mail address below.

Possible subjects include but are not limited to historical aspects of automobile companies and their leaders, regulation of the auto industry, financial and economic aspects of the industry, the social effects of the automobile, highway development, environmental matters, and automotive marketing, design, engineering and safety.

A cover letter should be included stating the student’s address, school, program, advisor, and stage in studies.  The student should indicate how the paper submitted will relate to his or her professional future.  2019 Submissions must be e-mail dated by June 15, 2020.  All papers submitted will be acknowledged.

Upon recommendation of the judges, the winning paper will considered for publication in the Society’s Automotive History Review.   The award consists of a plaque and a cash prize of $500.00.

Submissions should be sent to:         John E. Mohr Chair, Student Awards Committee

Recent Previous Award Winners:


“Church Pews From Detroit: The Rise of the Drive-in Church in the United States of  Between the 1940s to the 1950s” by Han-Yi Huang, University of Toronto
Award of Distinction: “The Virtual Fronteir: The Automotive Video Game and its Future in Automotive Heritage” by Tyler Miller-Wells, McPherson College


No Award

“Shanghai Taxi” by Adam and Shaung Frost, Harvard University


No Award


“Race Men: African American Participation in Automobile Racing – 1910-1991,” by Alison Kreitzer, University of Delaware


“Creating an Icon: the Rise of the Ford Mustang,” by Patrick Nicolello, University of Dayton

2014 Joint Winners

“Reorientating Main Street: The International Meridian Highway Association’s 1921 Reip to Mexico” by Amanda Johnson, Utah State University
“From Peace Officer to Law Enforcement Offier: The Patrol car and the Professionalization of Police” by Sarah Seo, Princeton University


“The Soft Sell: Gender, Advertising and the Chevrolet Corvair,” by John Mohr, Auburn University


“Boulevards and Broken Dreams: Burnham’s Plan, the Automobile and Changing Ideas of Chicago’s Streets, 1909-1929,” by Sam Kling, Northwestern University.


 “The Automobile, the Interstate and Suburbanites” by Andrew Jennings Mabon, James Madison University


“Sit-Down Women: Gender and the 1936-7 General Motors Strike in Flint, Michigan” by Ted R. Mitchell, Michigan State University.


“Consumers, Cadillacs, and Civil Rights: The Social and Cultural Impact of the Automobile in Ebony, 1945-1965” by Peter S. Cajka, University of Dayton.


“The Development of the Garage in Rural Belgian Flanders,” by Els De Vos.


“General Motors: Innovations in American Social Class Structure,” by Katherine Anne Mechler, University of Dallas.


“The Fast and the Furious: The Victoria Police and Changing Definitions of Speed and Speeding 1900-1930,” by E. Rick Clapton, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Award of Distinction – “History of Chicago’s Motor Row,” by David M. Kerr, Loyola University.


“Eve’s Conquest of the Steering Wheel: Gender and the Automobile in Interwar France,” by Adam C. Stanley, Purdue University.


Graduate Level
“Mini: The Creation of a Culture Icon,” by Dean C. Ruffilli, University of Western Ontario.
Undergraduate Level
“Scooters in America: The Future is the Past,” by Owen Thomas McDonough, College of William and Mary.


No award


“Driving the Dream,” by Jameson M. Wetmore, Cornell University.
*(Separate Graduate and Undergraduate level awards were instituted beginning in 2003)