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Announcing the Winners of the 2021 State History Awards

The Historical Society of Michigan announces its 2021 State History Award winners, recognized during the Annual Meeting and Michigan History Conference on September 24-25, 2021. The State History Awards are presented every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history.

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 State History Awards

State History Awards Logo

11/30/22

Written By: Historical Society of Michigan

LANSING, Mich.—The Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) announces its 2021 State History Award winners, who will be recognized during the Annual Meeting and Michigan History Conference on September 24-25, 2021. The Society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history.

 

The 2021 winners are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award—Graydon M. Meints of Kalamazoo
  • Distinguished Volunteer Service—Roland G. Winter of Marshall
  • Distinguished Professional Service—Frank Boles of Mt. Pleasant
  • History Hero—Tawny Ryan Nelb of Midland
  • Books: University & Commercial Press—
    • "I Hope This Reaches You: An American Soldier’s Account of World War I" by Hilary Connor (Wayne State University Press)
    • "Mémoires of Michilimackinac and the Pays d’en Haut" by José António Brandão (Michigan State University Press)
    • "Undermining Racial Justice: How One University Embraced Inclusion and Inequality" by Matthew Johnson (Cornell University Press)
    • "Justice and Faith: The Frank Murphy Story" by Greg Zipes (University of Michigan Press)
  •  Books: Private Printing—
    • "Glimpses of a Century in the Wabik Area" by Donald and Sharon Mikkola (Champion-Beacon-Humboldt Historical Society)
    • "Boulders: The Life and Creations of Earl A. Young in Charlevoix, Michigan" by David L. Miles (Charlevoix Historical Society Press)
  • Books: Children & Youth—
    • "Digging Up an Island's Past—Piecing Together Our History" by Karin Grönlund Cozzi and Jeanne Hartwell Krukowski (Self-Published)
  • Communications: Printed Periodicals—"JHSM Bulletin" published by the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan
  • Education: Educational Programs—"Virtual Field Trip Partnerships" hosted by the River Raisin National Battlefield Park/Monroe County Intermediate School District
  • Education: Educator—Julie Sheppard
  • Media—"This Is Where" online video
  • Special Programs/Events—Tri-River Historical Museum Network for its "Spring Into the Past" tour
  • Local Societies—Southfield Historical Society
  • Institutions—Birmingham Museum
  • Best Article in Michigan History Magazine—"A Woman's Place Is Under the Dome: Fighting for Woman Suffrage in Michigan's Capitols" by Valerie R. Marvin
  • Best Article in Chronicle Magazine—"Reckoning With a Troubled Past: The John Taylor Lynching" by Jacob McCormick

Detailed descriptions of the winners can be found at the end of this press release.

The Michigan History Conference explores significant people, places and events in Michigan’s past through a diverse offering of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, workshops and tours. Normally, the conference moves to a different location every year to feature the local history of that area and to address notable statewide historical matters. This year's virtual conference highlights history from all regions of the state. Standard registration ends on September 23, 2021. Registration details and full session descriptions are available on HSM's website. 

Michigan History Day (National History Day in Michigan) offers a fascinating opportunity to move beyond routine learning. Based on an annual theme, students choose to explore and research a local, national or international historical topic. Students then present their work in one of five categories: performances, exhibits, papers, websites and documentaries.

Lead sponsors of Michigan History Day 2021 are TCF Bank, The Meijer Foundation, and the Scripps Howard Foundation.

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft. A nongovernmental nonprofit, the Society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s rich history.

HSM will recognize Graydon M. Meints of Kalamazoo with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. Meints has written about virtually every facet of Michigan’s railroad history. Meints spent ten years working at the New York Central Railroad before embarking on a 32-year career with the Fidelity Federal Savings Bank. Throughout much of that time, he researched and wrote articles and books about Michigan’s railroads. In addition, Meints has also presented programs about Michigan railroads around the state. From 1976 to 1980, he served as president of the Kalamazoo County Historical Society and served on the Historical Society of Michigan’s Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1988.

The 2021 State History Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service will go to Roland G. Winter of Marshall. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry is America’s oldest national agricultural organization. Winter has devoted most of his life to preserving the history of the Michigan State Grange. At that the age of 14 and, over the years, he joined the Home Grange in Newton Township in 1928, and over the years held offices at the local and state levels—including president/master of the Michigan State Grange from 1980 until 1996. One of Winter's enduring legacies is the hosting of the Grange's records and documents at the Michigan State University Archives and the Bentley Historical Library.

Frank Boles of Mt. Pleasant will receive the 2021 State History Award for Distinguished Professional Service. Boles earned his doctorate in American labor history from the University of Michigan. He has previously worked at the Chicago Historical Museum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bentley Historical Library and the University of Michigan’s School of Information. In 1991, he became director of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University. Under his leadership, the Clarke developed a rich collection of books and manuscripts and became a statewide leader in digitizing collections, including 400,000 pages of newspapers. Boles is also a prolific author, having written several foundational research papers, books and articles.

The 2021 History Hero Award will be presented to Tawny Ryan Nelb of Midland. A leader in the preservation of history, Nelb has assisted many organizations with archiving since opening Nelb Archival Consulting in the 1980s. Nelb has previously worked for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and the Yale University Manuscript and Archives Department. She served 11 years on the advisory board of the Midland County Historical Society; 8 years on the governor’s Michigan State Historical Records Advisory Board; and 4 terms on the HSM’s Board of Trustees, including as the Society’s president. Nelb has also written more than 50 articles and 5 books on historical records preservation and local history topics.

HSM will present a State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press to José António Brandão for "Mémoires of Michilimackinac and the Pays d’en Haut," published by Michigan State University Press. In this book, Brandão uses three critically important original works to examine French and Native-American relations in the Great Lakes region prior to 1715. The scholarship and insights provided by this new work will delight serious students of France in North America, but the book is enjoyable for readers who have even a modest interest in the era.

Hilary Connor will receive a State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press for "I Hope This Reaches You: An American Soldier’s Account of World War I," published by Wayne State University Press. In this book, Connor uses an extraordinary collection of materials to tell the story of WWI soldier Byron Fiske Field, crafting a moving narrative of the patriotism, sacrifice, love and loss of a young Michigan man who served his country in the Great War.

HSM will present a State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press to Matthew Johnson for his book "Undermining Racial Justice: How One University Embraced Inclusion and Inequality," published by Cornell University Press. The title of this work hints at the paradoxes it explores. By mining reports, memoranda and meeting minutes from the University of Michigan’s archives, Johnson is able to show how the institution, like other universities throughout the country, responded to African-American activists by making racial inclusion and racial inequality compatible. Such practices resulted in an era of racial retrenchment on college campuses.

A State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press will go to Greg Zipes for "Justice and Faith: The Frank Murphy Story," published by the University of Michigan Press. Born and raised in Michigan’s Thumb region, Frank Murphy presided over the trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet in 1925, helping pave the way for future legal victories concerning desegregation; contended with the 1937 General Motors sit-down strike as Michigan’s governor; and served as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Attorney General. Author Greg Zipes offers a thorough exploration of the Michigan man’s stellar political and legal career.

HSM will present a State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing to Donald and Sharon Mikkola for "Glimpses of a Century in the Wabik Area," published by the Champion-Beacon-Humboldt Historical Society. This two-volume history of the Upper Peninsula’s Champion-Beacon-Humboldt area tells of U.P. community life in the years before the Civil War and into the 21st century. Illustrated with more than 1,000 photographs, the books include information about railroads, mining, logging, farming, churches, schools and parks in the area.

David L. Miles will receive a State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing for "Boulders: The Life and Creations of Earl A. Young in Charlevoix, Michigan," published by the Charlevoix Historical Society Press. This biography of Young, architect of Charlevoix’s “Mushroom Houses,” contains almost 400 images of his life and work. The book draws on a collection of photographs, film negatives, documents, artifacts and drawings donated to the Charlevoix Historical Society by Young’s descendants, accompanied by newspaper reports and interviews with people who knew him.

The 2021 State History Award for Books: Children & Youth will be awarded to Karin Grönlund Cozzi and Jeanne Hartwell Krukowski for "Digging Up an Island’s Past—Piecing Together Our History." The book’s authors chose a unique format to teach young people about the rich history of Grosse Ile. Rather than using the usual chronological narrative, they wrote of a grandfather telling his two grandchildren about 12 key locations and events in the island’s history by way of artifacts from a treasure chest. As the fictional tale unfolds on the left-hand pages of the book, the right-hand pages supplement the story with additional illustrations, news articles and diagrams.

The Jewish Historical Society of Michigan’s "JHSM Bulletin" will receive the 2021 State History Award for Communications: Printed Periodicals. Last year, the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan (JHSM) turned its newsletter, the “JHSM Bulletin,” into an annual report. Using Grigg Graphic Services, the organization redesigned the publication and doubled its length to highlight JHSM’s programs and projects, new members and annual donors. The revamped "JHSM Bulletin"—with its new features and attractive look—proved a great success. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, membership climbed by 16 percent, program engagement reached an all-time high and several years of deficits turned into a financial surplus.

A State History Award in the category of Education: Educational Programs will be awarded to the River Raisin National Battlefield Park and the Monroe County Intermediate School District for its "Virtual Field Trip Partnerships." Those field trips, offered to teachers in 45-minute presentations, focused on the history of the Michigan Territory in the early 19th century and adhered closely to the Michigan social studies standards. Offerings included a wide range of subjects. The program reached 88 classrooms and served 2,300 students.

Julie Sheppard will received a State History Award in the category of Education: Educator for her excellence in fostering a love of history in her students. Sheppard has taught at South Haven since 1988 and served as a Social Studies and Language Arts Content Area Leader since 2006. Under her leadership as a Michigan History Day® (MHD) coach, her students often advanced to the state finals and national competitions. Sheppard also coaches MHD in five other non-participating school districts, leads 4-H clubs and coaches volleyball.

The 2021 State History Award for Media will go to the online video "This Is Where." In anticipation of its millage renewal in May 2021, the Monroe County Museum System sought to convey the extent of its reach to voters. The museum system engaged Bradley Egen and Motion Possible to create a short film to be distributed over social media. The result was "This is Where." Released in March 2021, the video gave viewers an engaging and uplifting look at Monroe County’s history organization. When voters went to the polls, they not only renewed the museum system’s millage but also approved a 50 percent increase.

HSM will present a State History Award in the category of Special Programs/Events to the Tri-River Historical Museum Network for its "Spring Into the Past" tour. Due to the geographic area and varied public hours of the sites in the museum network’s multi-county span, the tour was born—for one weekend a year in May, all member museums share the same hours for visitors. With unique themes, a numbered map and more, the tour has grown into a large event hosted across multiple organizations.

A State History Award in the category of Local Societies will be awarded to the Southfield Historical Society for its work in highlighting Indigenous history. In 2018, the society opened a permanent exhibit titled, "The Potawatomi of Southfield," in collaboration with the Ziibiwing Center and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. This marked the culmination of years of work and a future of inclusive programming and historical action, including a successful petition to replace Southfield’s Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.

A State History Award in the category of Institutions will be awarded to the Birmingham Museum. With a professional staff of three people, along with help from volunteers and college interns, the Birmingham Museum is a modest-size institution that has a big impact. The museum has embraced an inclusive approach to its exhibits and programs, emphasizing people over objects in telling Birmingham’s story and attracting involved audience members. In addition to its on-site exhibits, the museum has a lively social media presence, stages off-site exhibits in public venues, hosts virtual exhibits, leads public programming for people of all ages and has a robust publications program.

Valerie R. Marvin will receive the 2021 State History Award for the Best Article in Michigan History Magazine for her article, "A Woman’s Place Is Under the Dome: Fighting for Woman Suffrage in Michigan’s Capitols." The article appeared in the magazine’s January/February 2021 issue and described the decades-long battles for woman suffrage in Michigan’s three state capitols. Marvin’s article explores the events surrounding the struggle for the right to vote. The words and actions of suffragists gradually took effect, culminating in Michigan’s ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1919.

The 2021 State History Award for the Best Article in Chronicle Magazine, HSM's membership publication, will go to Jacob McCormick of Delhi Charter Township for his article titled, "Reckoning With a Troubled Past: The John Taylor Lynching." The article appeared in the magazine’s Spring 2021 issue and examined the lynching of an African-American Civil War veteran in the village of Mason. In 1866, a lynch mob acting on false rumors hanged John Taylor. McCormick’s article explored recent efforts to ensure that the tragic event would not be forgotten, including the 2019 commemoration of the site with a Michigan Historical Marker.

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828. A nongovernmental nonprofit, the Society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s rich history.