AASLH Leadership in History Awards

Since 1945, AASLH has bestowed 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 Americans. By publicly recognizing superior and innovative achievements, the Leadership in History Awards serve as an inspiration to others in the field.

AASLH maintains the awards program to recognize Good History that changes people’s lives by helping them make connections with the past. Recipients can take pride in the fact that they are recognized by their peers. Winners use the award to promote their institution in their communities and beyond, including leveraging needed funds.

Who Can Submit Award Nominations?

AASLH encourages institutions of all sizes to apply, and to self-nominate. Creating an AASLH nomination helps measure the success of an organization’s programs and is an important step to excellence. AASLH State Representatives are here to help all nominees. More information on preparing a nomination can be found on the submission page.

Award Types

The Award of Merit
The Award of Distinction
The Albert B. Corey Award
The History in Progress (HIP) Award
The Michael Kammen Award

Submit a Nomination

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2018 Awards Cycle

Nominations for the 2018 Awards are due by March 1, 2018. Nominations can take some time to put together, so start your nomination at least 3-4 weeks before the deadline.

2017 Awards Cycle

2017 Awards Press Release/ List of Award Winners

For Winners: Download Promotional Tools

2016 Awards Cycle

2016 Awards Press Release

2016 List of Award Winners

See press releases and Awards Banquet programs from previous years here [ADD LINK].

Review Process

After state team captains review submissions, making certain that each nomination is complete, they send the nomination along with their comments to their respective regional representatives. These fourteen regional representatives, along with the National Awards Chair, form the Awards Committee.

In the spring, the entire committee meets at AASLH headquarters in Nashville to choose that year’s award winners. Every nomination, out of a total of well over 100, is reviewed by each committee member and then voted on individually by the full committee. Nominees will be notified of the committee’s decision by July 15.

From those nominations selected to receive an Award of Merit, the Awards Committee also may choose to grant additional recognition through the Albert B. Corey award, the History in Progress (HIP) award, and the Michael Kammen award. You will find additional information about these special awards on your nomination instructions, where you will also find a description of and instructions for the Award of Distinction, AASLH’s highest honor.

Award Types

The Award of Merit

The Award of Merit is presented to recognize excellence for projects (including civic engagement, special projects, educational programs, exhibits, publications, etc.), and individual achievement.

The Award of Distinction

The Award of Distinction is given infrequently and only in recognition of long and very distinguished individual service. Recipients are noted for their contributions to the field of state and local history and are recognized nationally as leaders in the profession. To nominate an individual for this award, please contact Trina Nelson Thomas, national awards chair, by February 1.

Recipients of the Award of Distinction

  • 1963: Christopher Crittenden and Ernst Posner
  • 1966: Alice E. Smith
  • 1969: Louis C. Jones and S.K. Stevens
  • 1976: Clifford Lee Lord
  • 1978: A. Russell Mortensen
  • 1980: Edward P. Alexander
  • 198?: Lucile M. Kane
  • 1990: Charles Peterson
  • 1999: L. Thomas Frye
  • 2001: Robert Richmond
  • 2007: Carol A. Kammen
  • 2008: E. Alvin Gerhardt
  • 2008: John E. Fleming
  • 2009: Charles F. Bryan, Jr.
  • 2011: Dennis O’Toole
  • 2012: Robert R. Archibald
  • 2017: Lonnie G. Bunch, III

AASLH selects candidates from the Award of Merit nominations for:

The Albert B. Corey Award recognizes primarily volunteer-operated historical organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination in their work. Regional chairs may recommend any primarily volunteer organization that is nominated for the Award of Merit. This is an award made at the discretion of the Awards Committee.

The Awards Committee also presents the History in Progress (HIP) Award, a special additional award for an Award of Merit winner whose nomination is highly inspirational, exhibits exceptional scholarship, and/or is exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships, or collaborations, creative problem solving, or unusual project design and inclusiveness. This is an award made at the discretion of the Awards Committee.

The Michael Kammen Award was first presented in 2015.  Named for the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Cornell University’s Newton C. Farr Professor American History and Culture Emeritus, this award is presented to a history institution with an annual budget under $250,000 that has shown outstanding effort. This is an award made at the discretion of the Awards Committee in consultation with the Emeritus Council.

Learn from Award Winners

Everyone in the field can learn from the creativity and dedication of AASLH Award-winners. Browse profiles below to find ideas and inspiration for your own history work.

Award Winner Spotlight Webinar: Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota History Center won an award for Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota). The entire project from palette to text was decided outside institutional control by the Hmong community. The creators share their perspectives on community curated exhibits and how museums can overcome the lack of diversity and diverse viewpoints within historical interpretation.

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Award Winner Spotlight Webinar: Nashville Public Library

The Nashville Public Library won an award for their Civil Rights and a Civil Society program. They partnered with the Metro Nashville Police Department to develop a diversity education curriculum rooted in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement. By recognizing a significant need, NPL was able to use their position to provide a much needed service to the communities that call Nashville home.

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Award Winner Spotlights

We can all learn from our colleagues’ success. Browse Award Winner profiles on the AASLH blog.

Browse Profiles