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October 1, 2005 Contact: James David Moran
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Boxing essay wins Common-place award for historical writing

WORCESTER—Melissa Haley, author of a colorful essay on boxing and pugilists in the late nineteenth century, recently received the first Uncommon Voice prize from Common-place, the online journal of American history.

Haley’s essay, A Storm of Blows, appeared in the January 2003 issue of Common-place. ( She was awarded the prize, which carries with it a cash award of $500, on April 21 at the Organization of American Historians annual meeting in Washington D.C.

When she wrote her award-winning essay, Haley was a manuscript archivist at the New York Historical Society. Since then she was a 2005 Fellow in Non-fiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts and was also the winner of last year's NYFA Prize.

Haley has published essays in the American Scholar and Post Road, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Last fall, she did a residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts and will be going to the MacDowell Colony this summer.

The first Uncommon Voice prize was awarded for the article of most striking literary merit in the first five volumes of Common-place. Judging for subsequent prizes will based on articles in each annual volume of four issues.

The cash award for the Uncommon Prize was funded by an anonymous donor.

"The generous gift that makes this prize possible comes at a crucial time in the life of Common-place," said Edward Gray, editor. "Now that the journal has demonstrated both the need and the audience for accessible but challenging writing about the American past, the prize allows us to broaden our potential pool of contributors and readers.

"Knowing that such a generous and competitive award is possible," Gray added, "we hope even more authors will be inclined to share with our readers their best historical writing."

Since it was launched in 2000, Common-place has been an "uncommon voice" amid the myriad printed and electronic journals, magazines, and weblogs competing for the attention of historically minded individuals. The goal of the journal has been to provide academics, researchers, students, teachers, and the general public with a rich array of interesting and thoughtful articles, informed by the highest standards of contemporary scholarship and written to command and hold the attention of all kinds of readers.

About Common-place

Common-place is a common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. Common-place readers can join in the discussion of any of the journal's features by visiting the "Common-place Coffeeshop," a message board on the website. Common-place is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the Florida State University Department of History.

About the American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is a learned society and independent research library, specializing in all aspects of American history and culture through 1876. Founded in 1812 by the patriot printer and publisher Isaiah Thomas, AAS is the third oldest historical organization in the United States and the first to take the whole nation as its scope. The AAS library is the preeminent repository of pre-twentieth-century American printed materials and related manuscript and graphic arts materials in the world.

The Society also sponsors an array of programs to encourage the use of its collections and to foster a greater understanding of American history. The main office for Common-place is at AAS, 185 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609-1634; telephone (508) 755-5221.

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