The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award

Recognizing books that transform public understanding of Chicago.

Author Toya Wolfe speaks at the Newberry after receiving the 2023 Pattis Chicago Book Award.

The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award at the Newberry Library is presented annually to a book that transforms public understanding of Chicago, its history, or its people. 

The prize, established in 2021 by The Pattis Family Foundation in partnership with the Newberry Library, brings attention to publications that advance greater insight into the city among a general readership while resonating with the Newberry’s collections related to the history and people of Chicago.

Stay tuned for updates about nominating books for the 2024 award.

About the Award

  • The award-winning author(s) will receive a prize of $25,000.
  • The award will be presented at a public event at the Newberry Library and will include a lecture by or conversation with the prize winner, followed by a private reception.
  • The prize winner may be invited to participate in other Newberry programs, including an engagement with its archival collection. The scope and nature of this engagement will be created to suit the award winner.
  • Any book, whether fiction or nonfiction, that promotes public understanding of Chicago; titles must be available for purchase by the general public in either hardcover or bound paperback form.
  • All subject areas, disciplines, and genres are eligible, including but not limited to: history, biography, the social sciences, art, architecture, poetry, drama, graphic novels, or fiction.
  • Translations, textbooks, anthologies, reprints or new editions of previously published works, pamphlets, digital publications, travel guides, children’s books, or self-published works are not eligible.
  • Books by current Newberry staff members and books by authors who were members of the Newberry’s staff at the time the book was written are not eligible.
  • Advancement of understanding of Chicago among a broad, general audience.
  • Quality of writing.
  • Unique perspective or pathbreaking research.
  • Relevance to an issue of contemporary importance.
  • Resonance with the Newberry Library’s collection strengths.
  • Thoroughness of research in the discipline or subject area.
  • Nominations may be made by authors, publishers, or members of the general public.
  • Nominators must complete an award submission form for each book submitted.
  • The Newberry will request from the publisher five copies of those books selected for further review.
  • There is no cost to submit a book for the award.

The period for nominating books for the 2023 award is now closed.

The Book Prize Selection Committee will be made up of no more than three Newberry staff members and at least one but no more than two external members, all of whom have expertise in Chicago, its history, and its culture; and one ex-officio member from The Pattis Family Foundation.

The Book Prize Selection Committee may select one or more submissions as "Shortlist Award Recipients." Shortlist Award Recipients also receive a monetary award.

Previous Winners

2023 Awardee

Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street (William Morrow)

2023 Shortlist Award Recipient

Heather Hendershot, When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America (University of Chicago Press)

2022 Awardee

Dawn Turner, Three Girls from Bronzeville (Simon & Schuster)

2022 Shortlist Award Recipients

Elly Fishman, Refugee High: Coming of Age in America (The New Press)

Tim Samuelson, Louis Sullivan’s Idea (Alphawood Foundation; distributed by University of Minnesota Press). Edited and designed by Chris Ware

William Sites, Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City (University of Chicago Press)

Carl Smith, Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Gail Kern Paster, left, the Newberry's Interim President and Librarian, with 2023 Pattis Chicago Book Award winner Toya Wolfe.


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