The Herbert H. Lehman Prizes, 2008 & 2009

The Herbert H. Lehman Prizes 2010, 2011, 2012

The Herbert H. Lehman Prize for History promotes and honors outstanding contributions to New York State and City history in two categories. The prize for Distinguished Scholarship is given for historical research and writing for non-fiction books that give substantial attention to this area. The prize for Distinguished Service is given to those individuals who have contributed, over a period of time, to the body of knowledge about New York in a multitude of ways.

Herbert H. LehmanHerbert H. Lehman was 45th governor of New York from 1933 until 1942 and United States Senator from 1950 until 1957. He believed that “government is for the people,” that it should “concern itself with the solution of human as well as material problems,” and that “it must be flexible enough to meet the changing conditions of the world.” As Governor, Lehman directed his focus to ameliorating the conditions of New Yorkers

suffering during the Great Depression, and under his leadership the state adopted his “Little New Deal.” Reforms included minimum wages for women and children, reduction in working hours, unemployment relief, state unemployment insurance, improved Workmen’s Compensation, mortgage relief for homeowners, more public housing, lowered utility rates, and help to farmers. He worked with federal agencies to direct more funding to New York State.

Known for his humanitarian and human rights interests, he was also director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which was critical in assisting millions of World War II victims. He was a generous philanthropist, who often gave anonymously to dozens of causes; his diverse interests ranged from founding the American Joint Distribution Committee to establishing the Central Park Children’s Zoo. He had been on his way to Washington, D.C. to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom when he died in December 5, 1963, age 85.

Herbert H. Lehman Archive, Rare Books and Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Lots of Lehmans: The Family of Mayer Lehman of Lehman Brothers (Center for Jewish History, 2007)