The Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest

First place (tie) “Peace Offering” Elena Jarvis Jube
First place (tie) “The Road to Dallas” Kim Webb Reid
Third place “Aguas Vivas” Thea Jo Buell
Honorable Mention “My Stepdad Was a Bank Robber” Billy Wilson
Honorable Mention “Densely Witnessed” Lisa R. Harris

We are happy to announce the Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest for 2021.

Prizes for the Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest

1st place: $300
2nd place: $200
3rd place: $100
Honorable Mention: $50


The contest is open to BYU graduates, BYU graduate students, full-time BYU employees, and subscribers to BYU Studies Quarterly. Employees of BYU Studies, members of the editorial and advisory boards, and their immediate families may not enter the contest. Current BYU undergraduate students are likewise not eligible for this contest but are encouraged to submit their work to other contests sponsored by the university. References above to “BYU” include BYU–Idaho and BYU–Hawaii.

Authors who received a Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay award in 2020 are ineligible to submit in 2021.

General Rules

We ask those who wish to enter our essay contest to first read "Writing a Personal Essay for BYU Studies." This information not only explains the basic concept and structure of the personal essay but will also help contributors understand the religious element that should be present in essays written for BYU Studies Quarterly. Do not, however, submit essays that teach doctrinal matters without the context of a personal narrative. We are not looking for sacrament meeting talks or doctrinal expositions.

You may also find it valuable to read some personal essays previously published in BYU Studies Quarterly. The following essays should illustrate both the general structure of a personal essay and the diversity this literary form permits:

An individual may submit up to three entries. Each entry must not exceed 3,000 words (roughly 10 double-spaced pages). Please use a plain font, and do not include photographs or other graphics as part of your essay. You may indicate in your cover letter if you have appropriate graphics to add to your essay in the event that it is chosen for publication.

Entries should be accompanied by one cover page that includes:

  1. Author's name
  2. Mailing address
  3. Email address
  4. Phone number
  5. Statement of eligibility
    1. Year of the author's graduation from BYU with college and degree OR
    2. position, if employed full time at Brigham Young University OR
    3. a statement that the entrant subscribes to BYU Studies Quarterly.
  6. Title of each essay

Neither the name of the author nor any other identifying information should appear in the essays themselves, including document headers and footers. Submissions without the requested cover page and information will be rejected unread.

Entries will not be returned.

BYU Studies has the right of first refusal to publish all entries. We do not accept essays that have been published or are under consideration elsewhere, that have won any award from another contest, or that may be the property of another publisher. Do not simultaneously submit your essay to our contest and to any other writing contest. Authors may not submit contest essays for consideration to any other contest or publication until the Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay contest results are announced or until receiving confirmation that the essay will not be published in BYU Studies Quarterly. As a general policy, personal essays published in BYUSQ are chosen from contest entries.


All entries must be received by email or postmarked on or before January 31, 2021.

Submission Process

  1. To submit by email (preferred), please attach a separate file for each entry. The cover page may be in the body of the email or attached as a separate document. We prefer files to be submitted as Word documents (.doc or .docx) but will also accept WordPerfect (.wpd) or Portable Document Format (.pdf) files. The subject line of the email should read, “Personal Essay Contest Entry.” Send to
  2. To submit by regular mail, please include a paper copy of each essay as well as a digital file of the material on a CD or a thumb drive. Mail submissions to:

    Essay Contest
    BYU Studies
    1063 JFSB
    Provo, UT 84602–4098


Judging will be blind. The judges reserve the right to withhold any award if no entry merits the ratings established.

If you have any questions:

Please call at (801) 422-6691, write to the address above, or send an email to: