Abbott Lowell Cummings Award

The Abbott Lowell Cummings Award, named after the founding president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, is conferred annually upon the book that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. In judging the nominated works, the jurors look for a publication that:

  • is based on primary research;
  • emphasizes fieldwork that takes seriously the materiality of architecture and landscapes, and draws on particular elements of  environments as evidence;
  • breaks new ground in interpretation or methodology; 
  • contributes generally to the intellectual vitality of vernacular studies in North America; and
  • nominated works must be in English.
Past Cummings Award Winners

    2020 Cummings Award Recipient

    The winner of the 2020 Abbott Lowell Cummings Award is C.J. Alvarez for Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the U.S.-Mexico Divide, published by University of Texas Press, 2019, which tackles an original, ambitious, and timely project: interpreting the cultural landscape of the artificial line that both links and separates the United States and Mexico.

    Please visit the 2020 Cummings Award page for more details Border Land, Border Water .

    2021 Call for Nominations

    The deadline for the 2021 Cummings Award is DECEMBER 15, 2020.

    There is no application form, but a cover letter should include the author’s complete mailing address, phone number and email address to facilitate communication should the nominated work receive the award.

    Entries may come from any discipline concerned with vernacular architecture studies. Books published from January 2019 through December 2020 are eligible for consideration. Edited collections of previously published materials are not eligible.

    Books should be sent directly to each of the three Cummings Award Selection Committee members. Please contact the committee chair with any questions: at

    2021 Cummings Award Selection Committee

    Gretchen Buggeln (chair)

    1053 Smallwood Trail

    Valparaiso, IN 46385

    Gabrielle M. Lanier

    James Madison University

    Department of History

    Wilson Hall, Room 3054

    MSC 2001, 951 Madison Drive

    Harrisonburg, VA 22807 

    Chris Wilson

    829 Adams Street NE

    Albuquerque, NM 87110

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