The Department of History is delighted to announce the latest recipients of the Nancy Bylan Bratman Excellence in Writing Awards. These prizes recognize the promising work of entry-level majors in the “Doing History” class (History 202) and more accomplished projects by History juniors and seniors enrolled in the History colloquia 496 and 497. 

The Bratman prizes were established in 2016 by a generous gift from brothers Ben and David Bratman to honor their mother, Nancy Bylan Bratman. Congratulations to our Fall 2023 winners:

  • Maxmillian Wiegel, First Prize, History 497, for an essay entitled, “Absent Valour and Unequal Sex: Belisarius’s Masculinity within The Tyranny of Women”
  • Quinn Byington, Second Prize, History 497, for an essay entitled, “The Christian Emirs: Multicultural Exchange Between Latin Christians and Arab Muslims in the Court of the Norman Kings of Sicily”
  • Sydney Banks, History 202, for an essay entitled, “A Complicated Game of Bridge: The Bush Administration’s Internal Response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre”

Nancy Ellin Bylan was born June 7, 1929, in Detroit, and grew up in Grand Rapids. After a year at Wellesley College, she transferred happily to the University of Michigan to complete her undergraduate education. She majored in History and remained proudest of her A+ junior-year thesis on the Boer War. She was also active on the Michigan Daily, where she served as a reporter and associate editor, and in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, for which she was a chorister and treasurer.

After receiving her BA in 1951, Nancy worked for several years as an editor in New York and Chicago, mostly for trade publications. She married Dr. Robert Bratman in 1956, and they moved to California where they raised four sons: David, Michael, Joel, and Benjamin. Always an elegant writer and impeccable editor, she was delighted to oblige when her sons, even as adults, asked her to review their writing. Nancy died on March 15, 2014, at the age of 84.