Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize

The Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize, named in honor of the long time
director of Science Service and his wife, was established in 1985 through a
long-term pledge from Miles and Audrey Davis. The prize consists of $1000 and
a certificate.

The prize honors books in the history of science directed to a wide public
(including undergraduate instruction). The book must be published in English
during a period of three calendar years immediately preceding the year of
competition (books eligible for 2020 were published in 2017, 2018, or
2019).They should be introductory in assuming no previous knowledge of the
subject and in being directed to audiences of beginning students and general
readers. They should introduce an entire field, a chronological period, a
national tradition, or the work of a noteworthy individual. Multi-authored or
edited books are eligible, whereas unrevised reprints of previously published
works are not. The prize may not be split between two books. Check the
nomination form below for the deadline.

Should the prize committee wish to review a nominated title, the History or
Science Society Executive Office will request that a copy of be sent to each
member of the committee.

Submit a Nomination for the Davis Prize

Past Winners of the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize

Click the book to learn more

Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good: From the Panopticon to the Skinner Box and Beyond
The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that Changed a Continent
 Orchid: A Cultural History
 The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language
 Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism
 Earth's Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters
2020 Cathy Gere,
Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good: From the Panopticon to the
Skinner Box and Beyond

(University of Chicago Press, 2017)
2019 Michael F. Robinson,
The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that
Changed a Continent

(Oxford University Press, 2016)
2018 Jim Endersby,
Orchid: A Cultural History (University of Chicago Press, 2016). 
2017 Tania Munz, The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the
Honeybee Language
(University of Chicago Press, 2016). 
2016 Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism (Oxford University Press, 2013).
2015 Martin Rudwick, Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters (The University of Chicago Press, 2014).
2014 W. Patrick McCray, The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space
Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future
 (Princeton University Press, 2012).
2013 David Kaiser, How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the
Quantum Revival
 (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011).
2012 Mark Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson
to the Age of Ecology
 (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
2011 Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth
on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
(Bloomsbury Press, 2010).
2010 Marcia Bartusiak, The Day We Found the Universe (Pantheon Books, 2009).
2009 Charles Seife, Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of
Wishful Thinking
 (Viking Adult, 2008).
2008 Helen Rozwadowski, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep
(Belknap Press, 2005).
2007 Matt Ridley, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Atlas Books, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006).
2006 Robin Marantz Henig, Pandora’s Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the
Reproductive Revolution
 (Houghton Mifflin Press, 2004).
2005 Alan M. Kraut, Goldberger’s War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader (Hill and Wang, 2004).
2004 Jeff Hughes, The Manhattan Project: Big Science and the Atomic Bomb (Columbia University Press/Icon Books, 2003)
2003 Ken Alder, The Measure of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey and Hidden Error
that Transformed the World
(The Free Press, 2002).
2002 Peter Dear, Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions,
 (Princeton University Press, 2001).
2001 Nancy Tomes, The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American
 (Harvard University Press, 2000).
2000 Gregg Mitman, Reel Nature: America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film (Harvard University Press, 1999).
1999 Daniel J. Kevles, The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science and Character (W.W. Norton & Company, 1998).
1998 Ruth Lewin Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).
1997 Richard Rhodes, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bom(Simon & Schuster, 1995).
1996 Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs and Margaret C. Jacob, Newton and the Culture of Newtonianism (Humanities Press, 1995).
1995 Victor J. Katz, History of Mathematics: An Introduction (New York: Harper Collins, 1993).
1994 David C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific
Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context,
600 B.C. to A.D. 1450
 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
1993 James Moore and Adrian Desmond, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist (London: Michael Joseph, 1991).
1992 John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
1991 Nancy G. Siraisi, Medieval and Early Modern Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge
and Practice
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).
1990 Robert W. Smith, The Space Telescope: A Study of NASA Science, Technology, and
 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
1989 Joan Mark, A Stranger in Her Native Land: Alice Fletcher and the American
 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988).
1988 John L. Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck as Spokesman for German
 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).
1987 Thomas L. Hankins, Science in the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
1986 Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and
(New York: Random House, 1983).