Frederick Douglass Prize

The Frederick Douglass Prize is a college-wide contest to select the best undergraduate research paper in the broad area of Black studies.

To encourage undergraduate research in Black studies, the Frederick Douglass Institute and Department of Black Studies will offer a $500 prize for the best research paper in Black studies.


Contest opened to all undergraduates at the University of Rochester.


April 19, 2020

Research Topics

Topics must be in the broad area of Black Studies. Interdisciplinary work is especially encouraged.

Essay Format

Paper length should not exceed 25 pages and should be the students' own research and/or a close analysis of text. Essay may be developed from any disciplinary point of view and may take the form of an analysis that is historical, literary, philosophical, psychological, biographical or sociological. Paper should be the result of the student's work in fall 2018 or spring 2019. Only one essay per student per contest year may be submitted.

Faculty Sponsor

A faculty sponsor is required to review the student's essay, fill out a Faculty Sponsor Form, and write a letter of support.

Any interested professor may act as a faculty sponsor for a student who wishes to enter the essay contest. Faculty sponsors should only endorse thought-provoking, well-written essays that fall within the contest guidelines.

2016 Winning Entry

The 2016 winning entry was submitted by Sara Zeimer '16 for her paper on "The Garifuna: A Modern Maroon Society" 

2015 Winning Entry

The 2015 winning entry was submitted by Katherine Wegman '15 for her paper on "The people on the Floor: Health, Community, and Informality Among the New South Africa's Urban Poor".