The Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize
One of two publication prizes, the Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize is awarded for the most distinguished book-length work in English which best furthers the Society's goal "to promote study of the history, design, and use of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods." The first award in this category was given in 1989 and has been awarded in odd-numbered years thereafter. In 2009, the Board of Governors elected to make it an annual award.
The prize consists of the sum of $500 and a certificate, and the winner is announced at the Society's annual meeting and in the Society's Newsletter. Nominations (including self-nominations) and copies of the book nominated should be submitted by November 15.
The 2020 Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize for best book-length publication that furthers the society's mission is awarded to Robert B. Winans and colleagues for the book Banjo Roots and Branches (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018). This collection presents research on the African and Caribbean roots of the banjo from new perspectives. It explores the banjo as a slave instrument, and finally its multiple uses as folk and minstrel instrument in the nineteenth and twentieth century from both black and white perspectives.