American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters, formerly also American or National Institute of Arts and Letters called, is a company in the United States of America located in Washington Heights, Manhattan, made ​​up of 250 members from the fields of writing, visual arts and composition composed. The aim is to promote the general interest in high-quality art by and maintain that outstanding artist with a number of prizes and awards, as well as exhibitions of works by each be honored.


The American Academy of Arts and Letters emerged from the American Social Science Association (ASSA ), founded in Boston in 1865. These included several departments such jurisdiction or training. H. Holbrook Curtis, one of the members submitted in September 1898 the ASSA President Simeon Baldwin 's proposal to set up a subsidiary, which should be guided in their orientation and organization at the Institut de France. The idea was approved by the organization, and after many of the invitations had been accepted, and the first meeting of the newly formed National Institute of Arts, Science and Letters was held on February 11 1899 was elected at the Charles Dudley Warner to provisional president. In September of the same year the company was deciding whether to continue a sub-division of ASSA stay or a self-governing apparatus should be. The members opted for the latter and in the process they emphasized science from the term.

First, a maximum number of 150 members was approved. 30 of these were from 1904, the "Academy", the inner core of the Institute, which was made up of elite members and was modeled after the Académie française. The first seven members, who were elected by the Institute, were William Dean Howells, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Edmund Clarence Stedman and John Hay in the Department of Literature, Augustus Saint -Gaudens and John La Farge in the Department of Fine Arts and Music was by Edward MacDowell represents. These seven selected in the following eight more, which in turn appointed new members until finally was reached the maximum number. In 1907 this increased to 250 (200 members of the "institutions" and 50 "Academy" members). 1916, the company was officially recognized in a so-called congressional charter of the U.S. government.

The divided in Institute and Academy of organization had until 1976 inventory than we summarized the two-layer system under the name American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. It was in the aftermath only a supervisory board and a common budget. In addition to the 250 surviving U.S. citizens and 75 foreign artists was now an honorary membership allows. There was, however, internally still be a dichotomy. It was only adopted in 1993, it is completely different from the two-layered organizational structure by the Institute and Academy also named after summing up and gave it to them current name American Academy of Arts and Letters. Today the Managing Board consists of a president, three vice-presidents of Fine Arts, three Vice-Presidents for literature, two for music, and a treasurer and a secretary. Since 2012, Henry N. Cobb has held the office of President for three years.


A membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters is reserved for those who are self- nominated by one of the members. The election is for life, and the person elected must not pay membership fees or other charges. Only when a seat is vacant by the death of a member, a new candidate can be nominated. In the early years up to 1907, Julia Ward Howe recorded only men were represented in the Academy. Only with the election of Edith Wharton, Margaret Deland, Agnes Mary E. Wilkins Freeman Repplier and in 1926 was also the female gender growing in importance in society.

Prizes and awards

The individual committees of the Academy have donated since the passing of which a large number of prizes in the various categories. A nomination is also possible here only by the members of the Academy. The only exception is the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, for which one can apply also:

Currently awarded prizes and awards:

  • The Academy Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters is awarded annually since 1941. The prize of $ 7,500 prize will be in the categories of visual arts, writing, composition and architecture
  • The prize of $ 5,000 Marc Blitzstein Award is awarded to composers, poets or librettists since 1965.
  • Winner of the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, which is awarded every two years, received $ 5,000. Excellent English is short poetry, where the country of origin of the author is irrelevant.
  • Winning the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize is associated with a grant of $ 5,000 and is awarded to architects who operate architecture as art.
  • Benjamin H. Danks Award: This $ 20,000 prize is awarded alternately to composers, writers and prose and poetry writers.
  • The Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts is awarded to curators, performance artist, publisher, etc. and is worth $ 1,000.
  • The Jimmy Ernst Award is endowed with $ 5,000 and will be awarded in the painting category.
  • The winner of the EM Forster Award receives $ 15,000 in the category of writing.
  • The Academy awards since 1909, gold medals, which will honor the complete works of award winners. The medal in its present form was designed by the U.S. American sculptor James Earle Fraser in 1916.
  • The Walter Hinrichsen Award is awarded in the category of composition
  • The William Dean Howells Medal has been awarded since 1925 every five years to the author of the best novel in this period.
  • The Charles Ives Awards are six scholarships worth $ 7,500 each and two with a value of $ 15,000 that will be awarded annually to a young composer. Since 1998 there is also the Charles Ives Living, which enables the awardees to get for three years, a sum of $ 75,000 annually.
  • The Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction has been awarded since 1979 and is worth $ 5,000. The award is the best debut albums of the author.
  • The Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award is a doped $ 5000 Composition Prize, which is awarded annually.
  • The Goddard Lieberson Fellowships are scholarships, each worth $ 15,000, two of which are awarded annually to outstanding composers.
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit is a Medal of Merit, awarded since 1942, along with $ 10,000 alternately in the categories of painting, short story, sculpture, epic, poetry and drama.
  • The Addison M. Metcalf Award and the Willard L. Metcalf Award will be awarded every two years since 1986 in the categories of literature or visual arts and are each endowed with $ 10,000.
  • The Katherine Anne Porter Award is presented every two years to writers of prose and is purchased at 20,000.
  • With the Arthur Rense Prize every three years $ 20,000 will be awarded to an outstanding poet since 1998.
  • Since the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater are more junior awards and artists from the theater area that are not yet established, to support, they are the only conferred by the Academy Awards, for which one can apply.
  • The Rome Fellowship in Literature is a scholarship, the two young writers allows you to work at the American Academy in Rome every year.
  • Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Awards are rewarded with $ 5,000 each and are distinguished writers of fiction or professionals from the field of fine arts from.
  • The Medal for Spoken Language is irregularly awarded to people who distinguish themselves through the proper use cultivated language.
  • The Mildred and Harold Strauss Livings are scholarships for a period of five years, which annually send $ 50,000 to the award winners and so enable them to devote himself exclusively to writing.
  • The Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award is endowed with $ 10,000 and is awarded annually in the category of prose literature.
  • The awarded every two years Dauwen Morton Zabel Award is rewarded with $ 10,000 and is characterized alternately a poet, a writer of fiction or critics.

Formerly awarded prizes and awards:

  • The Institute Award for Distinguished Achievement was only awarded to three young artists, as it was only from 1945 until 1947.
  • The Nathan and Lillian Berliawsky Award was doped with $ 5,000 Music Prize, which was awarded between 1984 and 1988.
  • Witter Bynner Prize for 1979, Poetry was launched and drew up in 2002 a young poet from $ 5,000.
  • The Russell Loines Award was awarded 1931-1983 to young poets.
  • The coated with $ 5000 Louise Nevelson Award in Art was awarded from 1988 to 1997
  • The Jean Stein Award has been awarded annually 1984-1994 to writers.
  • The Marjorie Peabody Waite Award was conferred in the categories of writing, fine arts or Composition Prize, who had 1956-1984 inventory.