Minnesota History Awards Past Winners
Civic Engagement & Public Celebrations
Douglas County Historical Society (Alexandria) for their civic engagement program, Douglas County Historic Cemetery Care & Aid Program. “Great example of exceptional history work and collaboration with partners and volunteers.” – History Awards Committee Member
Maplewood Area Historical Society (Maplewood) for their Nonprofit Leadership Internship Program. “This is a well planned internship program. I sincerely appreciate the framing of this in a lens of equity and inclusion.” – History Awards Committee Member
Farmer-Labor Education Committee (Minnesota) for their documentary, The Farmer-Labor Movement: A Minnesota Story. “Labor history is often something that is overlooked in many discussions of local history. It was refreshing to see such a well done documentary highlighting this political movement.” – History Awards Committee Member
Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County (Moorhead) for their interpretive program, Hjemkomst Voyage 40th Anniversary Exhibit. “I like that this is a large re-interpretation project and they took the opportunity to broaden the audience and be more inclusive. They also take on the challenge of an international event (with a local connection) and seem to do so ably.” – History Awards Committee Member
Maplewood Area Historical Society (Maplewood) for their Hmong Language and Culture Camp. “I am impressed with the dedication MAHS has to building strong connections to a significant, though underrepresented, community in the Maplewood area.” – History Awards Committee Member
White Bear Lake Area Historical Society (White Bear Lake) for their interpretive program, Bears on Boards: Water Skiing in White Bear Lake. “A very well organized, creative and entertaining exhibit. Excellent use of local history on a national theme.” – History Awards Committee Member
Northfield Arts Guild (Northfield) for their publication, Celebrating Arts and Community: The History of the Northfield Arts Guild. “I like the broad range of sources they used for the book - from meeting minutes, to newspaper stories, to oral history interviews. Sincerely appreciate that they included an index and endnotes to make the history more accessible.” – History Awards Committee Member
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Kathleen Backer (New Ulm) for her years of service to the Brown County Historical Society, Minnesota Agricultural Interpretive Center, and organizations across the region. "This focus on good management should not detract from her love of history. It is at the root of what she does. She is not the person who will spend long hours in the research room, but she will make sure that room is staffed and has adequate conservation supplies. Her love of history shows in a ready willingness to sit down and share a good story, whether it be about her ancestors – early settlers of New Ulm – or the history of bars, bands, bread, and beer – big stuff in New Ulm!” – Excerpt from Daniel Hoisington’s letter of critical testimony.
Civic Engagement & Public Celebrations
Anoka County Historical Society (Anoka) for their digital project, History 21: The Podcast. “This is a great example of a historical society taking risks and using the technologies available to them to accomplish their core mission of educating and interpreting history.” – History Awards Committee Member
Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and Hennepin County Library (Excelsior) for their virtual program, Votes for Women: MN and the 19th Amendment. “Truly appreciated the nuance that was used in this project to explain the many different facets and beliefs held by all of those in the movement.” – History Awards Committee Member
Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County (Moorhead) for their interpretive program, Ihdago Manipi: Clay County at 150 exhibit. “I really like how they acknowledge their historical shortcomings and worked with a group of Indigenous scholars to include their history and stories.” – History Awards Committee Member
Washington County Historical Society (Stillwater) for their project to design, fabric, and install a new permanent exhibit, From the Woods to the World. “I love how the Washington County Historical Society developed a highly interactive exhibit that is also ‘good history.’” – History Awards Committee Member
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Betty Mann (Luverne) for 27 years of service to the Rock County Historical Society and organizations across the Southwest region. "Betty is an important voice for her organization in the community and contributed greatly to the historical research that had a nationwide impact through her work with Ken Burns. She also shared her experiences by forming a regional organization and providing guidance to those historical societies so they could strengthen their operations and physical facilities.” – History Awards Committee Member
Anoka County Historical Society (Anoka) for their program "An Un-wise Murder". The Anoka County Historical Society, with a special shout-out to Sara Given, brought the past back to life and developed this true crime docu-drama as an online fundraiser. The project invited new communities to experience Anoka County history and made history applicable to a wider audience during the COVID Pandemic. The project lays the groundwork for future digital programming and strengthening the partnerships it created.
Lyon County Historical Society (Marshall) for their exhibit "Making Lyon County Home". The physical exhibit is the pinnacle of multiple grants that involved interpretive planning, consultative work, research and exhibit writing, oral history collection and finally fabrication and installation. The exhibit explores Lyon County history from post-World War II to the present and shows how exhibiting contemporary history will lead to an increase in artifacts, images, stories and engagement from your community.
St. Louis County Historical Society (Duluth) for their book, "The Minnesota Beautician and Photographer Who Went to War: Monnie Palmatier and Al Payton. A Detailed Reference and Guidebook for Genealogy Research" by Kathleen Cargill. The book explored the journey of two small-town Minnesotans who crossed the United States while serving their country and places into context the role women played in the war effort. The book also provides a blueprint and resources for others who are going on their own genealogical journey.
St. Louis County Historical Society (Duluth) for their book, "Taconite - New Life for Minnesota’s Iron Range: The History of Erie Mining Company". The book details the taconite industry and the 61 year history of the Erie Mining Company. An extensive research team of former employees gathered and transcribed 150 oral histories and researched thousands of photographs and 35mm slides for the project. They’ve shared their extensive research not only in the book but with local archives and historical societies helping to enrich their knowledge.
For work completed from Jan. 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
Anoka County Historical Society (Anoka) for their program "We're in This Together", which documented the experiences of military veterans and their families from the 1991 Persian Gulf War through the present. Working with a local TPT station and other external partners they gathered oral histories and told these poignant stories in a way that was interesting and relevant to the people of today.
Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (Minneapolis) for their exhibit "Unbreakable". The exhibit tells the rich history of African-Americans in Minnesota and provides a more inclusive understanding by showing Minnesota’s history from a different perspective. One of the highlights of the exhibits is showcasing trailblazing women who made an impact both nationally and across the state
Carver County Historical Society (Waconia) for their book, "Diaries of Andrew Peterson: Swedish-American Horticulturist 1850-1898". This ambitious project led to a new translation and publication of Andrew Peterson’s extensive diary. The rich content of the diaries highlight the immigrant experience and Peterson’s work as a horticulturalist in Minnesota. A comprehensive index allows researchers and readers the ability to find keywords and topics quickly in the text.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Garwood (Faribault)
Sue’s leadership lead to the development of the Minnesota Alliance of Local History museums. In 2000, she co-coordinated the Alliance for the Millennium Collections Initiative which includes a binder of collections preservation resources and a teleconference which was broadcast across the state. She was the Director at Northfield Historical Society for 12 years and at the Rice County Historical Society now for 17 years. Her management has led to organizational growth, improved collections preservation and the dynamic educational programming.
For work completed from Jan. 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018
Civic Engagement & Public Celebrations
Otter Tail County Historical Society (Fergus Falls) for the Otter Tail County 150th Anniversary Celebration. To commemorate Otter Tail County's 150th Anniversary, the planning committee led by OTCHS developed an Otter Tail 150 exhibit, provided micro-grants to support the celebration, held unique programs throughout the county, and created a musical based on Otter Tail history.
Golden Valley Historical Society (Golden Valley) for the design, fabrication, and installation of permanent exhibits. After four years, the Golden Valley Historical Society completed its installation of new permanent exhibits to better interpret its city's history.
Hennepin History Museum, Mapping Prejudice Project, and University of Minnesota Heritage Studies and Public History Program (Minneapolis) for their exhibit "Owning Up: Racism in Housing in Minneapolis". The exhibit guides visitors through the stories of three black families as they searched for home in white-dominated neighborhoods during the twentieth century in Minneapolis.
Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota (St. Paul) for their exhibit "The Hmong Folk Arts Experience". Visitors to the exhibit, learn about the history and role of key folk arts forms including musical instruments, ceremonial recited wedding and funeral songs and embroidery in Hmong culture, how Hmong Minnesotans have worked to pass on these art forms over their 40 years in the state and the role these art forms continue to serve in the lives of Hmong residing in Minnesota.
Minnesota Discovery Center (Chisholm) for their exhibit "Underground: History Beneath Your Feet". The exhibit presents a history of the Iron Range focusing on local paleontology and historical archaeology with an emphasis on combining STEM and history learning.
West Central Minnesota Historical Association (Organizations in the counties of Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, Renville, Swift, & Yellow Medicine) for their exhibit "How the Great War Hit Home in West Central Minnesota: World War I". The exhibit was the first collaborative project completed by WCMHA. It recounts the experience of the whole region during World War I as a traveling exhibit that will be hosted in each of the ten partner counties.
Steele County Historical Society and Barry D. Adams (Owatonna) for their book, "Steele County in the Civil War". This book recounts the experience of Steele County soldiers during the Civil War for middle school students.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Cindy Adams (Lake Bronson)
Cindy Adams has served as a staff member of the Kittson County Historical Society since 1989. During this time she has overseen numerous improvements and expansions to the museum complex as well as leading new fundraising endeavors. Cindy has been an active participant at Minnesota's Historic Northwest meetings, serving as the organization's secretary for several years.
Alden Anderson (Gary)
Alden Anderson has been an active volunteer with the Norman County Historical and Genealogical Society in Ada for over 40 years as well as Minnesota's Historic Northwest.
Kathleen Klehr (Minneapolis)
Kathleen Klehr has served numerous local history organizations for 25 years, most recently as Executive Director of the Scott County Historical Society since 2004 through her retirement in March 2019. Always willing to share her expertise and mentor peers, Kathleen also served on the Minnesota Association of Museum's Board of Directors.
Louis Vital Marchand (Bemidji)
Louis Marchand was an active volunteer of the Beltrami County Historical Society and past member of the Heritage Preservation Commission in Bemidji. His contributions to the area's local history included two publications on the townships and rural schools of Beltrami County. He passed away in 2017.
Geraldine Pedersen (Jasper)
Geraldine Pedersen has been an active volunteer with the Jasper Historical Society for over 40 years. A local preservation advocate, Geraldine is credited with rallying community members to save the Jasper High School and Bauman Hall as well as publishing several histories of the community.
Mark Peterson (Winona)
Mark Peterson will retire in May 2019 after 36 years as Executive Director of the Winona County Historical Society. Not only was he a voice for local history in the Winona area but also brought his talents and expertise to the boards of Minnesota Humanities Center, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and Minnesota Association of Museums. Mark served as co-chair of the inaugural Historic Resources Advisory Committee.
Lee Radzak (Two Harbors)
Lee Radzak served as the Site Manager of Split Rock Lighthouse for more than 35 years. Through retirement in April 2019, Lee oversaw the growth and development of Split Rock Lighthouse including the creation of interpretive programming and a visitor center to welcome the nearly 4.5 million visitors during his tenure.
Janet Timmerman (Lake Wilson)
Janet Timmerman, the current leader of the Murray County Historical Society, has served local history organizations in Pipestone, Olmsted, Lyon, and Murray counties. She has been an active member of the Society for the Study of Local and Regional History. Janet currently serves as the secretary of the MALHM Board of Directors.
Mike Worcester (Little Falls)
Mike Worcester served the Cokato Museum & Akerlund Photo Studio as Director for 25 years through 2018. Always an advocate for local historical societies, Mike served on the MALHM Board of Directors and Historic Resources Advisory Committee.
For work completed from Jan. 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017
Minnesota Discovery Center (Chisholm) for their exhibit “Blue-Collar Battleground: The Iron Range Labor Story”. This exhibits covers over 100 years of labor history with a focus on several battlegrounds where workers have had to and continue to fight for economic justice.
Brown County Historical Society (New Ulm) for their exhibit "Loyalty and Dissent: Brown County and World War I". This exhibit tells a local story and the national implications of dissent. The primary goal was to look at the war’s effect on First Amendment rights.
Goodhue County Historical Society (Red Wing) for their book, "Patriot Hearts: World War I Pride and Prejudice in a Minnesota County" by Frederick Johnson. This book retells a largely forgotten 1917-1918 Minnesota story in microcosm, using Goodhue County as an example of serious cases of civil rights suppression that occurred in one of the state’s most ethnically and politically polarized county.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Tamara Edevold (Bagley)
Tamara Edevold has been the director of the Clearwater County Historical Society since 1990. She has been involved with the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums (MALHM) since its inception in 1991. She has been heavily involved with all aspects of the Minnesota Historic Northwest. Tamara has grown the membership of Clearwater County Historical Society from 18 members in 1990 to almost 800 in 2017. She served on the Historic Resources Advisory Committee.
Mark Edevold (Bagley)
Mark Edevold began his career in the local history field serving on the board of the Clearwater County Historical Society from 1988-1990. He has been a volunteer at the Clearwater County Historical Society since 1988 where he has undertaken construction projects, foundation work and grant writing. He served as Executive Director of the Beltrami County Historical Society from 1990-1993. Served on the MALHM board and served as a member of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee.
Gail Kvernmo (Hendricks)
Gail Kvernmo has been a volunteer at the Lincoln County Pioneer Museum for the last 50 years. She has served as a volunteer and also on the board of directors. During her time, she led the depot renovation and museum project in 1967 which assisted in the creation of the Lincoln County Historical Society in 1969. Gail was involved with the museum expansion of 3 historic and 2 exhibit buildings.
Jan Louwagie (Marshall)
Jan Louwagie has been the backbone of the Southwest Regional Resource Center at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) for over 40 years. She has supported researchers, continuously collected archival materials, and carefully helped document and tell the history of the region. She has been involved with the Society for the Study of Local and Regional History (SSLRH) since 1990. She assisted the Prairie Genealogical Society, the SSLRH, the Center for Rural and Regional Studies, and the Lyon County Historical Society.
June Lynne (Montevideo)
June Lynne became Executive Director of the Chippewa County Historical Society in 1993. Before this she was very active in the Montevideo area’s tourism. She was a member of the Western Minnesota Prairies Waters since its inception in the early 1980s. She was a member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. She served on the board of the Minnesota River Scenic Byway. She was the leader in creating the West Central Minnesota Historical Association in 2015. While serving as Chippewa County’s director, she managed the Historic Chippewa Village, the Swensson Farm and the Lac Qui Parle mission. June passed away on November 28, 2017.
For work completed from Jan. 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016
Minnesota Discovery Center (Chisholm) for their exhibit “Enough! The 1916 Mesabi Range Strike”. This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Mesabi Range strike. The Minnesota Discovery Center used primary materials and direct quotes to tell the story from all perspectives so the visitor can interpret the story.
Pope County Historical Society (Glenwood) for their documentary “Pope County 150, 1866-2016”. This video was created in celebration of Pope County turning 150. It captures the history and culture of the Pope County community since 1866.
Washington County Historical Society (Stillwater) for their book, “Company K in the Border War: The Stillwater National Guard in Texas 1916”. This book highlights the experiences of the Stillwater National Guard played in defending the Mexican border with the use of letters, photos and local newspapers.
Cokato Museum and Historical Society (Cokato) for their digitization project of the Gust Akerlund Negative Collection. The Cokato Museum and Historical Society digitized 14,019 negatives, the entire collection of Cokato photographer Gust Akerlund ranging from 1902-1950.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Kathleen Bergan (Gilbert)
Kathleen Bergan began her work with the Iron Range Historical Society in 1986. During that time, she has been editor of quarterly newsletter, published ten books and been a dedicated volunteer. Over her thirty years of service to the Iron Range Historical Society, she inventoried and organized the Society’s collections.
Mark Peihl (Moorhead)
Mark Peihl began his career in local history in 1985 at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County in Moorhead, MN by volunteering. In 1986, he became their archivist and is responsible for the Historical Society’s photo and manuscript collections, corporate records, and public reference services. He has written multiple articles for the Society’s newsletter and produced over 30 exhibits on Clay County and Minnesota History.
Chris Schuelke (Fergus Falls)
Chris Schuelke has worked at Otter Tail County Historical Society since 1987, when he started as Curator. He has served as executive director since 1989. Among his many accomplishes are creating the Historical Society’s endowment, awarded an American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) award in 2006 for the preservation of the Kaddatz Hotel in Fergus Falls and completed a major renovation of the museum’s Agriculture Wing. Chris Schuelke was a founding member of the MALHM.
Vickie Wendel (Anoka)
Vickie Wendel began at the Anoka County Historical Society in 1986, moving from volunteer to program manager. She was a leading force in the capital campaign for a larger facility which resulted in a new facility that opened in 2002. She has researched and designed exhibits, traveling programs and events for the Historical Society. Vickie is a leader of outreach and created many relationships outside the museum walls. The exhibit, Vietnam: The Veteran’s Experience, was nationally recognized with an award from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) in 2007.
For work completed from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.
Northfield Historical Society for behind-the-scenes efforts to preserve the legacy of Malt-O-Meal in Northfield
Northfield Historical Society for their exhibit series, 40 for 40.
Waseca County Historical Society for their exhibit, Where the Big Woods meet the Prairie: A Timeline of Unique Stories in Waseca County.
Lifetime Achievement Awards:
Marlys Hirst (Baudette) has served the Lake of the Woods County Historical Society as Executive Director since 1984. During that time she has published three books on local history, one cookbook, and overseen three additions at the museum. Marlys has been a leader not only within Lake of the Woods County but also regionally by her involvement with Minnesota’s Historic Northwest, a collaboration of history organizations in the northwest corner of Minnesota.
Art Warner (Little Falls) served the Morrison County Historical Society for 50 years. For all but three years of that time, he served in the capacity of President. Art played a pivotal role in professionalizing the organization and moving the museum to its current location. His contributions to the local history community have been nothing short of extraordinary. Art passed away on August 16, 2015.
Jan Warner (Little Falls) served the Morrison County Historical Society for 50 years, most of which as a volunteer Executive Director. She was instrumental in the construction of the museum’s current facility and helped lead the effort to form a Heritage Preservation Commission in Little Falls. During the course of her service, Jan served on the board or assisted in the founding of eight regional and statewide organizations, including the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums. She officially retired as Executive Director on August 27, 2015.
For work completed from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.
Carver County Historical Society for its redesigned website, www.carvercountyhistoricalsociety.org. (Publications)
Carver County Historical Society for its publication, Two Wars on the Frontier: Diaries of a Soldier. (Publications)
Oliver Hudson Kelley Grange, No. 834 (Minneapolis) for its Spring Seed Social and Mother’s Day Open House event. (Public Programs)
Red Wing History Museums (Goodhue County Historical Society, Pottery Museum of Red Wing, Red Wing Marine Museum, Red Wing Shoe Company Museum, American Ski Jumping Museum & Hall of Fame, and Aliveo Military Museum) for their Red Wing Museum Crawl event. (Partnership)
For work completed from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013. (*Note the 2014 Awards cover a two-year period.)
Anoka County Historical Society for its publication Keepers of the County: Crime and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
Carver County Historical Society for improving preservation and access to the organization’s photo collection.
Depot Preservation Alliance for the restoration of the Baudette Depot.
Lyon County Historical Society for the move to a permanent location and developing new exhibits that tells the story of Lyon County.
Martin County Historical Society for the renovation of the Pioneer Parsonage.
Minnesota’s Historic Northwest (13 county museum consortium including the counties of Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Beltrami, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Clay, and Becker) for the traveling exhibit, Inventors, Innovators, and Entrepreneurs.
Ramsey County Historical Society for the process of relocating a storage area and completing an artifact inventory.
Washington County Historical Society for its documentary on Justice Rosalie Wahl titled Girl from Birch Creek.
Arlington Historical Society for the Lido Theater Marquee Restoration Project (Behind-the-Scenes)
A campaign that partnered public, private and nonprofit to raise funds for and restore a community landmark.
Kerck Kelsey and Pogo Press for Prairie Lightning: The Rise and Fall of William Drew Washburn. (Publications) A biography of one of Minnesota’s most dynamic and volatile pioneers.
Ramsey County Historical Society and Guest Curator Frank White for “They Played for the Love of the Game: Adding to the Legacy of Black Baseball in Minnesota (Public Programs) An exhibition and series of associated public programs looking at the history of Minnesota’s baseball history within its African American community.
Scott County Historical Society for “Heroes Among Us: Veterans of the Second World War” (Public Programs) An exhibition based on an extensive oral history project with Scott County’s World War II veterans.
Anoka County Historical Society for 75 Years of Collecting Collections Management Project (Behind-the-Scenes)A collections management project that engaged and educated the public on how museums collect a community’s history.
Northfield Historical Society for Pioneer Women: Voices of Northfield’s Frontier (Publications)
A blueprint for how to small, quick and well-done publishing, the Northfield Historical Society produced this history of early women in the community.
Washington County Historical Society for St. Croix Base Ball Club Vintage Base Ball Program (Public Programs) A program that presents base ball played by 1860s rules, this program is credited with fostering a growing popularity in vintage base ball programs across the state.
Winona County Historical Society for the Winona County History Center’s Laird Norton Addition (Behind-the-Scenes) A development campaign that weathered the depths of the 2007 recession to raise $4.6 million for the Laird Norton Addition to the Winona County History Center.
Arlington Historical Society for the Arlington Fire Hall Restoration Project (Behind-the-Scenes)
A project that restored the City of Arlington’s 1890 fire hall and forged a positive relationship between the city and the Arlington Historical Society.
Hennepin County Library for “Minnovation: 150 Years of Ingenuity” (Minnesota Sesquicentennial)
An exhibition and series of programs that examined 150 years of Minnesota inventions and ingenuity making use of the library’s patent collection.
Jon Olson for the Minnesota Statehood Sesquicentnnial Wagon Train (Minnesota Sesquicentennial)
A seven day trip from Cannon Falls to the steps of the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul that was made up of 19 wagons pulled by horses and oxen to celebrate the Minnesota sesquicentennial.
Ramsey County Historical Society, University UNITED, University Avenue History Group for “At the Center: 150 Years at Prior and University Avenues” (Minnesota Sesquicentennial) A partnership between three organizations that looked at the “micro history” of a single intersection in St. Paul. The project included an exhibition and a public event with panelists discussing the history and future of the intersection and costumed interpreters engaging the public.
Robert Waltz for Minnesota Heritage Songbook, CD-ROM and Web Site (Minnesota Sesquicentennial)
A publication of 46 public domain folk songs that are a part of and tell the story of Minnesota’s earliest years. The book and associated materials were distributed to over 700 schools, libraries and public repositories across the state.