Every year the Department of History awards the Zeender Prize for best senior thesis by a history major, its highest honor for the research of its undergraduate students.

John Zeender

The prize is named after John K. Zeender (1917-2002), who earned his B.A. and M.A. in history from Catholic University, and returned to the university as a member of the department’s faculty, teaching modern German history here from 1959 to his retirement in 1984.  The prize commemorates Professor Zeender’s devoted undergraduate teaching, as well as his courtly charm and intellectual grace.

Winners of the Zeender prize from past years:

2024: Alexander Crawford, “Public and Private Perception of the War of the Currents, Then and Now”

2023: Abigail Baxter, “‘She has Butter on Everything, Even Toast!’: Britishness, Femininity, and Self-Sacrifice during the Second World War”

2022: Olivia Brogan, "Treasures of Old Philadelphia: An Analysis of Two Gilded Age Mansions in Suburban Philadelphia"

2021: Joseph Mitchell, "In the Public Eye: President Grant's Retreat from Reconstruction"

2020: Elizabeth Erickson,  “The Honorable Ronald N. Davies and the Fight for Racial Justice”, and
Joslyn Felicijan, “‘Back then we were heroes, today we’re murderers’: Anglo-Polish Historical Memory in World War II Cinema”.

2019: Susannah Marshall, “Religion in Service of Politics: Egyptian Propaganda from 1500-1150 BC”

2018: Clare Whitton, “The Evolution of Devotion to the Holy House of Loreto: How the Papacy Influenced the Cult of the Holy House” 

2017:   Conor Boland, “Containment in United States Relations with South Africa During the Ford Administration”

2016:   Samantha Aurilia, “Contradictions and Coalitions: The Anti-Rape Movement in the United States, 1968-1975”

2015:   Clare Hennigan, “‘The Last Ditch of Oppression’: Charles Sumner and Public Schools in the District of Columbia”

2014:   Kyle P. Dalton, “‘Active and Efficient’: Enlisted Men and the Service of the United States Ambulance Corps”, and
Caitlin Ann Monaco, “‘Whoever Comes After Us Will Find Nothing’: The Role of Great Britain in the Allied Fight Against Nazi Art Theft and Acquisition”

2013:   Christina Johnson, “The Inuit, Robert Perry, and the Discovery of the North Pole”

2012:   Kieran Kelly, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: A Mixed Marriage in Twelfth-Century Ireland”

2011:   Brett Kline, “Benjamin Franklin Wade: Labor, Women, and the Limits of a Radical Republican”

2010:   Stephen M. Borthwick, “Brother of Germany: Martin Luther and German Nationalism 1516-1546”

2009:   Robert Coons, “The Self-Fashioning of Quintus Sertorius: A Study in Leadership”, and
Sean P. Phillips, “‘The Blessings of a Necessary Peace’: The French Charter of 1814 and the Stability of the Bourbon Restoration”

2008: Maureen Costello, “Gentle Steps of Passion: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”