For over seventy-five years, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has presented Leadership in History Awards to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people.
Today, AASLH announces the winners of the History in Progress awards and the Awards of Excellence. The 2023 Albert B. Corey Award winner, the Harrison Township Historical Society, was previously announced here.
History in Progress Awards
The History in Progress Award is a special recognition given to Award of Excellence winners that are particularly inspiring and creative, and are only given to 5% or fewer of the total awardees per year. This year, the three History in Progress winners are focused on Native American history, culture, and voices.
First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the Exhibit WINIKO: Life of an Object
WINIKO is a groundbreaking exhibit built using a curatorial framework that reunites objects collected over a century ago, held in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian collection, with their Indigenous relatives and cultures. The First American Museum’s all-Native curatorial team collaborated with the 39 tribal nations located in Oklahoma to affirm how each loan object fits into that framework, including appropriate object selections, reuniting each object with its Indigenous name, and reuniting the objects with their cultural relatives, ambitiously seeking descendants of the maker or owner. The gallery presents the objects within a space guided by Indigenous ethos and aesthetics, providing a centralized space to interrogate what happens when these objects are removed from tribal communities and placed in outside institutions.
Barona Cultural Center and Museum (BCC&M)and Split Rock Studios in Lakeside, California, for the Exhibit Nya’waap Illyuw Uuchyuwp: Our Way of Knowing
The Barona Band of Mission Indians is one of 13 bands of the Kumeyaay Nation, living in what is now southern California. Through centuries of colonization, genocide, and assimilation, knowledge of the Nation’s creation story was systemically eroded, disconnected, and lost. BCC&M launched an effort to reconstruct the story, drawing on the expertise of community elders and ethnographic records. This project shares the reconstructed Kumeyaay Creation Story through an immersive multisensory exhibit, and has built community in the Nation, reinforced Barona connections to the land, and reached new generations of Barona children and non-Native visitors with the strength and vibrancy of their culture.
History Colorado in Denver, Colorado, for the Exhibit The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal That Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever
This powerful exhibit explores the deadliest day in Colorado history, when an 1864 assault by U.S. troops killed more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, wiped out their tribal leadership, and resulted in them being forcefully expelled from their homelands forever. It was created over the course of 10 years in deep consultation with representatives from the three Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. This project worked to repair relationships and trust between the museum and tribes, foregrounded the voices of Native people in this tragedy, and shared the experiences and enduring cultures of the state’s original landkeepers.
Awards of Excellence
The Award of Excellence is presented to recognize excellence for projects (including civic engagement, special projects, educational programs, exhibits, publications, etc.), and individual lifetime achievement. This is the main award in the Leadership in History Awards program.
Priscilla Hancock Cooper for serving as a leader in the history field in Alabama and ensuring that the state’s vibrant Black community was not relegated to the margins of history or lost to time.
The NN Cannery Project team for the NN Cannery History Project
Wrangell History Unlocked for Wrangell History Unlocked: The Rise & Fall of the Star of Bengal
Tempe History Museum for Guadalupe: Where Three Cultures Flourish
Barona Cultural Center & Museum for Nya’waap Illyuw Uuchyuwp: Our Way of Knowing
California African American Museum for Rights & Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture
Center for Sacramento History for Unlocking the Past: A History of Prejudice and Racism in Sacramento
Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society for From Diggers Bend to River Rock: Dry Creek Rancheria People and History
The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles for Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora
History Colorado for The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal That Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever
Catherine Keene Fields for a career dedicated to the development and success of the Litchfield Historical Society
Orange County Regional History Center for Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in Orlando’s Underground
Coffee County Historical Society and the Coffee County Memory Project for Overcoming Segregation: A Journey Through Coffee County’s Forgotten Stories
Dr. Mamie Oliver for foundational contributions to the understanding of Black history in Idaho
Idaho State Historical Society for Idaho Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Sculpture
Friends of Minidoka for 80 Years of Reckoning: The Lessons and Legacy of Minidoka
University of Idaho Black History Research Lab for the Black History Research Lab at the University of Idaho
Cahokia Mounds Museum Society for Back to the City of the Sun: An Augmented Reality Experience
Naperville Heritage Society/Naper Settlement for Unvarnished: Housing Discrimination in the Northern and Western United States
The Salvation Army Central Territory Museum for Perspectives
Linn County Historical Society/The History Center for Oral Histories LIVE!
Humanities Kansas for the Kansas 1972 podcast
The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company for The Six Blanches
Forbes House Museum for Opium: The Business of Addiction
Marblehead Museum & Historical Society, Inc. for The Diverse History of Marblehead: A Research and Dissemination Project
Massachusetts Historical Society for Disability and the American Past
Worcester Historical Museum for Pretty Powerful: 100 Years of Voting & Style
Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County for Daring to Dream: The Hjemkomst Saga
Minnesota Historical Society and Twin Cities Pride for Twin Cities LGBTQ+ History Tours
Missouri Historical Society for the St. Louis Sound exhibition
Montana Historical Society for Montana: A History of Our Home
Alan Rumrill for a lifetime of helping people connect with their local history stories
Greensboro History Museum for NC Democracy: Eleven Elections
State Historical Society of North Dakota for Fashion & Function: North Dakota Style
Claremore Museum of History for the Lynn Riggs Gallery
First Americans Museum for WINIKO: Life of an Object
Vanport Mosaic for The Spirit of Vanport
Beaver Area Heritage Foundation for Matthew Stanley Quay: Saint or Sinner? You Decide!
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center for Pool: A Social History of Segregation
West Overton Village & Museums for Forging Ahead and Falling Behind: Industrial Growth in a Rural Community
Bristol Historical & Preservation Society for The Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, RI
Culture & Heritage Museums of York County for SC Liberty and Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877
The Journey Museum and Learning Center for 50th Commemoration of the 1972 Black Hills Flood
Dr Pepper Museum for Sit Down to Take a Stand Waco Lunch Counter Exhibition and soda fountain redesign
Irving Archives and Museum and the Irving Black Arts Council for The Local Green Book Project
Utah Humanities for Think Water Utah
Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for Material Memory: HBCU Library Alliance Tour
Virginia Museum of History & Culture for the Virginia Museum of History & Culture Reopening 2022
Historic New England for More than a Market: Food, Community, and Family in the Markets of Burlington and Winooski, Vermont
Harbor History Museum for the HHM Shenandoah Project
American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming for the Wyoming tour of the play A Sissy in Wyoming
Large Press: Here and Everywhere Else: Small-Town Maine and the World by Andrew Witmer (University of Massachusetts Press)
Small Press: Following the Faith; A Bicentennial History of First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville: 1822-2022 by First Presbyterian Church Clarksville (self-published)