The Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize

The Bernhardt Prize is an award of $500 given to an article  that furthers the understanding of the history of working people.  Articles focused on historical events AND articles about current issues (work, housing, organizing, health, education) that include historical context are both welcome.  The work should be published -- in print or online -- in a union or workers' center publication or by an independent/free-lance journalist.


The 2015-2016 winner is Chloe Kent, for her article "The Women of New York's Bravest" in Enchantress magazine, May 2016.  The award was announced at a forum at NYU's Tamiment Library on October 13, 2016.  Columnist and broadcast journalist Juan Gonzalez joined historian Kimberly Phillips-Fein for a discussion about using history to improve reporting on current labor issues, with Tom Robbins returning as moderator; Jon Bloom spoke about Bernhardt.


The 2014-2015 prize was awarded on October 15, 2015 to David Kameras and Emily Harris for their May, 2014 article in the United Mine Workers Journal:  "From Tragedy to Triumph - 100 Years Later, Workers Benefit from Ludlow's Legacy."  The presentation was held at NYU's Tamiment Library, following a program moderated by Tom Robbins, Investigative Journalist in Residence, Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY; with panelists Esther Kaplan, Editor, The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute; and Richard Steier, Editor, The Chief-Leader; Alex Bloom spoke about Bernhardt.


Details about how to enter the 2016-2017 contest are below.


The New York Labor History Association is sponsoring this award in order to inspire more great writing for a general audience about the history of work, workers, and their organizations.  The award is co-sponsored by LaborArts; Metro New York Labor Communications Council; the NYC  Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library.  The contest committee is: Irwin Yellowitz and Karen Rosenberg, NYLHA; Rachel Bernstein, LaborArts; Gary Schoichet, Metro; Cara Noel, NYC CLC; and Michael Koncewicz, Tamiment.


We are guided by the vision of the late Debra E. Bernhardt, who worked in so many different realms to share the hidden histories of working people. As head of the Wagner Labor Archives she reached out to an astonishing number of people and organizations, to document undocumented stories and unrecognized contributions, and to make links between past and present.  The LaborArts project is dedicated to Bernhardt, and the 2015 exhibit "Making History Personal" explores her work.


GUIDELINLES The prize will be given to insightful work that contributes to the understanding of labor history; shows creativity; demonstrates excellence in writing; and adheres to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy. Articles should be published in a labor or a workers’ center publication and/or by an independent/free-lance journalist – in print or online – between September 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017.


TO ENTER send an e-mail before Tuesday August 1, 2017 to with the following information:

Author name

title of article

name of publication

date and place of publication

url link for article (if available)

IF there is no link available attach a pdf of the article and of the front page of the publication to your e-mail.

Only one entry per person; publications and subject matter should target the United States and Canada; neither books nor plays are eligible.

If you have any questions at all about the prize please email or call  212-966-4014 ext. 1703.