Celebrating 100 Years: The History and Legacy of the Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize will be celebrating its own achievements this coming June as it approaches the 100 year mark. A prestigious award for excellence in journalism, literature, and music, the prizes have been announced every spring since 1917. Considering its rich history, its cultural significance in America, and its worldwide influence, it’s worth reflecting back on the Prize’s humble beginnings.

Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-born American, first made his name as a successful newspaper publisher in the late 19th century. His innovative approach made waves in the world of journalism, particularly when he called for journalists to receive formal training at the university level. When Pulitzer wrote his will in 1904, he envisioned the Pulitzer Prize as an incentive for extraordinary work in specific fields. His will provided instructions for the Prize’s establishment following his death.

The Pulitzer Prize officially began to award prizes in 1917, several years after Joseph Pulitzer passed away. He had made provisions for an advisory board to oversee the prizes and make changes to reflect the current standards of the time. The Prize started with four awards in journalism, four in literature and drama, one in education, and four traveling scholarships. With help from the advisory board, more awards have been added over the years. The Prize introduced poetry, music, and photography into the mix, increasing the current number of awards to 21.

As a testament to the Pulitzer Prize’s influence, collectors have sought to preserve its prize-winning works over the years. The most complete collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning works can be found within the Gianakos-Safos Collection, which houses over 1,000 unique and first-edition books. Larry Gianakos, acclaimed historian and co-owner of the collection, amassed these rare titles over the course of 40 years.

As the Pulitzer Prize celebrates its centennial, writers and artists throughout the United States still vie for recognition through one of its illustrious awards. At Calevoso Law, we are always thinking about the history of arts and literature and its impact on contemporary creative minds. Contact us for innovative legal services geared specifically to the needs of artists and entertainment companies.