James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences

Prize Committee

The 2018 competition for books published in 2017 is now closed. Details on next year’s committee will be published in the fall.

About this Prize

Born in Astoria, Queens, New York, in 1916, James S. Donnelly, Sr., attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn in the mid-1930s and received his Master’s and doctoral degrees from Fordham University. He completed his doctoral dissertation in 1942 under the guidance of the distinguished medieval historian Jeremiah F. O’Sullivan. This work was published in 1949 by Fordham University Press in its history series under the title of The Decline of the Medieval Cistercian Laybrotherhood.

Donnelly joined the Fordham faculty in 1943 and rose to the rank of associate professor and director of graduate studies in the history department. His impressive administrative talents led to his appointment as dean of Fordham’s School of Education in 1955, a position in which he served with distinction until 1962. In those years the School of Education, located at 302 Broadway in Manhattan, was an institution for undergraduates seeking the credentials necessary to become elementary- and secondary-school teachers. The leadership of such an institution appealed greatly to Donnelly, who was recognized as an outstanding teacher himself and was dedicated to the development of excellent faculty for the Catholic schools of New York City and its suburbs.

A prior interest in Catholic educational publishing blossomed into a new career in 1962, when Donnelly was named chief editor of Catholic publications by the Silver Burdett Company, based in Morristown, New Jersey. Donnelly subsequently became the head of Silver Burdett’s college division and worked with academics in editing and co-authoring textbooks for students at both community colleges and universities. From 1967 to 1972 he continued in publishing, first with Random House and then with McGraw-Hill, where he directed computer-based instruction and edited a series of social-studies books. In 1973 he joined Bell Telephone Laboratories as an editor of scientific reports and retired from Bellcore, a Bell successor company, in 1986. He died in 1989 at the age of 73.

The James S. Donnelly, Sr., Prize, named in honor of this tremendous scholar, editor, and teacher, was first awarded in 1999.