To further fulfill its goals to encourage, recognize and promote Peace Corps writers, RPCV Writers & Readers, the newsletter that was the precursor of PeaceCorpsWriters.org and PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org, presented their first annual awards for outstanding writing in 1990. Awards have been given each year since then. When possible, they are presented at the RPCV Conference Awards Ceremony.

The awards are:

The Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award

FIRST GIVEN IN 1990, the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award was named to honor Paul Cowan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Ecuador from 1966 to 1967. Cowan wrote The Making of An Un-American about his experiences as a Volunteer in Latin America in the ’60s. A longtime activist and political writer for The Village Voice, Cowan died of leukemia in 1988.

The Maria Thomas Fiction Award

THE MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73)] who was the author of a well-reviewed novel — Antonia Saw the Oryx First,  and two collections of short stories, Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage: And Other Stories and African Visas: A Novella and Stories, all set in Africa. Roberta lost her life in August, 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that also  killed her husband, Thomas Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73), and Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas.

The Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir

The Award for Best Poetry Book

The Award for Best Travel Book

Awards for Best Travel Book were first presented in 2001.

The Award for Best Children’s Book

The awards for Best Children’s  Book were first presented in 2001.

The Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award