The American Association for State and Local History (A.A.S.L.H.) announced on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 the winners of the 69th annual Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. Seventy-seven recipients from thirty-two states received national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations from the A.A.S.L.H.
“The Leadership in History Awards is AASLH’s highest distinction and the winners represent the best in the field,” stated Terry Davis, A.A.S.L.H. President & C.E.O. “This year, we are pleased to distinguish each recipient’s commitment and innovation to the interpretation of history, as well as their leadership for the future of state and local history.”
The A.A.S.L.H. stated, “The Leadership in History Awards Program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout America. Each nomination is peer-reviewed by AASLH’s state captains. Final awards are decided by the Awards Committee, comprised of AASLH’s fourteen regional representatives and the National Awards Chair.”
The awards included the Award for merit, the Albert B. Corey Award, and the HIP (History in Progress) Award. The Award of Merit is “for excellence in history programs, projects, and people when compared with similar activities nationwide.”
The winners in Illinois were The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art for the exhibit The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929-1940 and the Elmhurst Historical Museum for the exhibit Carl Sandburg in Elmhurst. One can see a fill list of winners organized by state online here.
The Albert B. Corey Award, named in honor of a founder and former president of A.A.SL.H., which recognizes primarily volunteer-operated historical organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination in their work. The winner this year was The Fort Daniel Foundation in Smyma, Georgia.
The HIP Award is “given at the discretion of the awards committee to 5% or less of the total winners of the Award of Merit for a project that 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.” There were four recipients.
The Oakland Museum of California won for the exhibit Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay. The Delaware Historical Society won for the exhibit Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area won for #QR1863: A Twitter Reenactment of Quantrill’s Raid. Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers won for the documentary Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story.
Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2014 A.A.S.L.H. Annual Meeting (September 17-20) in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday, September 19, 2014. The banquet is supported by the History Channel.
The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of over 6,000 individual and institutional members working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, the A.A.S.L.H. works to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of local history in America.
It is an independent organization that began as an offshoot of the American Historical Association (A.H.A.). In 1904, the A.H.A. established the Conference of State and Local Historical Societies for the benefit of the leaders of those organizations.
In 1939, a group of members of the Conference of State and Local Historical Societies chaired by Christopher C. Crittenden (1902-1969), Director of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History (1935-1968), discussed and then formally proposed the establishment of an independent organization. Its mission would be to coordinate efforts by historical societies to stimulate historians, history teachers, journalists, etc. to write about and teach state and local history in the U.S.A. and Canada.
Consequently, one year later, on December 27, 1940, the Conference of State and Local Historical Societies met and voted to disband. The first charter of the American Association for State and Local History read, in part, that its raison d’être was “the promotion of effort and activity in the fields of state, provincial, and local history in the United States in Canada.”
The A.A.S.L.H. publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine (History News), and a monthly newsletter. In addition to the annual meeting, the Association sponsors regional and national training workshops.
 This is not to be confused with the Albert B. Corey Award. First given in 1967, this award is co-sponsored by the A.H.A. and the Canadian Historical Association (C.H.A.). It is a biennial award given for the best work on Canadian-American relations or the history of both the United States of America and Canada. Albert B. Corey (1898-1963) served as Chairman of the American Section of the A.H.A.-C.H.A. Committee.