Early Career Prize

Society for the History of Recent Social Science

Established in 2024, the HISRESS Early Career Prize recognizes the strongest paper presented at the annual HISRESS conference, as judged by the Organizing Committee. Scholars who have not yet received a PhD, or are not more than five years beyond the PhD, are eligible.

The winner of the HISRESS Early Career Prize receives $250, a public citation, and an invitation to submit the manuscript to the new HISRESS journal, History of Social Science. Winners are not required to submit to the journal. Should the winner opt to submit, their manuscript will be subject to the journal’s peer review process.


2024 – Jamie Leach (Carnegie Mellon University), “‘Making the Most of Maturity’: Developmental Tasks, Social Adjustment, and the Invention of Retirement Education”

Leach’s paper describes the emergence of retirement education in the postwar US, through the story of a curriculum developed at the University of Chicago in the early 1950s. Leach’s well-written narrative centers on chemist-turned-educationalist Robert Havighurst and his “Making the Most of Maturity” (MMM) curriculum. As Leach skillfully recounts, Havighurst—from his perch at the Committee on Human Development—applied his theory of life-long developmental psychology to old age and the “task” of retirement. The paper describes how Havighurst’s curriculum, after a pilot study, was re-packaged for corporations, with the goal to help employees adjust to their next stage of life. Leach contrasts the MMM’s pedagogy of successful aging as a developmental task with its successor approach, centered on financial-planning and nest-egg accumulation. Leach’s deftly organized study highlights how postwar psychology was applied, here and elsewhere, as a therapeutic of modern adjustment.