Selected by the immediate past President, the current President, and the President-Elect of the Society in odd-numbered years, the Distinguished Historian addresses the luncheon meeting of the Society held at the meeting of the Organization of American Historians. The Distinguished Historian receives a commemorative plaque or certificate and an honorarium.
2018 — Erika Lee, University of Minnesota.
2016 — Manfred Berg, University of Heidelberg
2014 — Philip Deloria, University of Michigan
2013 — Pero Dagbovie, Michigan State University
2011 — Hasia Diner, New York University
2009 — Les Benedict, Ohio State University
2007 — David Montgomery, Yale University
2005 — Jean Baker, Goucher College
2003 — Samuel Hays, University of Pittsburgh
2001 — Linda Gordon, New York University