Book Collecting Prize

Margaret B. Stillwell Prize 2014


Deadline for Submission:

April 4, 2014

First $750 / Second $500 / Third $250,
as well as gift certificates will be awarded.

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 is invited to submit an entry form.

The deadline for entry forms for 2014 is April 4, 2014. Please fill out the form and address it to “Stillwell Prize, Box A / John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912”; or as an e-mail attachment. The final competition and judging will take place on April 14th 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.


Before entering, contestants are encouraged to contact the Stillwell Prize chair, Richard Noble, at the John Hay Library, Brown University (;  401-863-1187).

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 4, 2014.

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 on April 14, 2014, 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.

For book collecting resources, visit our Links page.

View past winners of the Stillwell Prize.

Sponsored by John Russell Bartlett Society in collaboration with Charles H. Watts II History of the Book Program at the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Naval War College, New England Institute of Technology, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, University of Rhode Island & all member organizations of CRIARL.