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Kentucky Historical Society Announces 2016 Kentucky History Award Winners

The Kentucky Historical Society annually recognizes people and organizations which have shown a consistent effort to promote the preservation and appreciation of Kentucky history. On Nov. 11, KHS presented the following 2016 Kentucky History Awards.

Special Awards

William T. Turner, Hopkinsville
Lifetime Dedication to History

Turner has spent his life dedicated to the preservation and teaching of Kentucky history. He began collecting postcards at an early age and started his own archive of Kentucky history. In 1963, he began teaching at Christian County High School. Within 10 years, he was teaching at Hopkinsville Community College, where he twice received the school’s “Great Teacher” award.

Besides teaching world civilization, American government and U.S. history, Turner taught a special Kentucky history class at the Pennyrile Area Museum. Through teaching, he touched the lives of more than 14,000 students. Turner has been the official historian of Hopkinsville and Christian County for more than 40 years, is a founding member of the Christian County Historical Society, helped to create the Pennyrile Area Museum and is involved with other history and heritage-related organizations.

Now retired from teaching, he leads tours and gives public presentations about state and local history. He has published or edited books and articles, and he still collects historic images, which now include an estimated 25,000 photographs and postcards.

Michael Ann Williams, Bowling Green
Award of Distinction

Williams, a folklore professor at Western Kentucky University, received the Award of Distinction for making a significant contribution to state and local history through her work with the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC). This commission, the only commission of its kind in the United States, supports the creation and preservation of oral histories across Kentucky.

Williams has served on the KOHC Advisory Board since 1997 and is a member of the commission’s grant review committee. Her experience and expertise has ensured that commission funds are applied to quality projects that push the use and accessibility of oral history collections across the state.

Education Awards

Oldham County Historical Society, LaGrange, Kentucky
Preservation of Archived Holdings of the J.C. Barnett Library & Archives

The J.C. Barnett Library & Archives is an important collection which focuses on African American history, slavery and the Underground Railroad through letters, slave indentures, court documents, tax records, marriage bonds, personal papers and more. These records illuminate a critical part of Kentucky’s past.

Lincoln County Historical Society, Stanford, Kentucky
Oral History Project

LCHS members helped to preserve their city and county’s oral history of the 1950s through the 1980s by gathering and digitizing decades-old oral history recordings. They also transcribed them and made those transcriptions available on the LCHS website.

Historic Paris-Bourbon Co./Hopewell Museum, Paris, Kentucky
“Paris City Schools: 150 Years of Academic Excellence Exhibit”

The Paris City School system is one of only 52 independent school systems left in Kentucky. The Hopewell Museum created the exhibit “Paris City Schools: 150 Years of Academic Excellence” to document its history and present its legacy to the community.

Steve Oldfield and Sean Thomas (Touritz), Covington, Kentucky
“Covington at 200: Points of View”

Oldfield and Thomas were the driving force behind the documentary film, “Covington at 200: Points of View.” They spent a year interviewing more than 50 people, including business owners, military veterans and survivors of the 1937 flood. The film is one of the cornerstones for Covington’s bicentennial. It has aired at a number of venues in northern Kentucky and premiered on Kentucky Educational Television.

Jack Jouett House Historic Site, Versailles, Kentucky
“Frontier Day”

The Jack Jouett House in Versailles created “Frontier Day,” a program about life on the Kentucky frontier during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to educate Kentucky fourth graders about Kentucky’s early history and culture. This program provided hands-on activities for students and examined such topics as Kentucky long hunters, the lives of frontier children, traditional music, archaeology and Native American history. Experts in each area led the sessions, bringing the frontier alive.

Behringer-Crawford Museum, Covington, Kentucky
“Buffalos & Bourbon”

Behringer-Crawford Museum partnered with Northern Kentucky University’s public history program to create an exhibit for Covington’s bicentennial and to give graduate students real-life curatorial experience. “Buffalos and Bourbon” draws on primary source materials to cover 200 years of Covington’s past and explain why this history is relevant to modern audiences.

Publication Awards

Michael W. Nagle, Ludington, Michigan
“Justus S. Stearns: Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933”

Nagle’s biography of Justus S. Stearns shows the Michigan resident and philanthropist’s impact on Kentucky. Stearsn was a coal and lumber baron whose coal operation was headquartered in Stearns, Kentucky, a town that he founded in McCreary County. The entrepreneurial Stearns owned at least 30 businesses, including railroads, a motor company and hotels. He also served as Michigan’s secretary of state.

Gerald L. Smith, Lexington, Kentucky; Karen Cotton McDaniel, Frankfort; and John A. Hardin, Bowling Green
“The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia”

“The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia” includes entries from Kentucky’s pioneer period to the present day and provides “a foundational guide to the black experience in the Commonwealth.” With 150 contributing authors and more than 1,000 entries, this reference work describes the Kentucky African Americans who played pivotal roles in every facet of the state’s history.

Bobbie Smith Bryant, Louisville, Kentucky
“Farming in the Black Patch”

“Farming in the Black Patch” examines how and why dark-fired tobacco has been so important to Western Kentucky’s economy and culture. It brings attention to the unique firing process of dark-fired tobacco and is one of the few modern sources that has examined the traditions and culture that developed around this farming process.

Glen Conner, Scottsville, Kentucky
“Frontiersmen in the War of 1812”

Although the War of 1812 is sometimes considered to be a “forgotten war,” author Glen Conner has worked to bring this conflict to the forefront. In “Frontiersmen of the War of 1812,” he examines the causes of the war, the soldiers who fought and the reasons why the War of 1812 is so important to Kentucky history (i.e., nearly one in six residents—about 25,000 men—performed some type of military service during the war. Kentucky also suffered approximately 60 percent of the war’s total casualties, meaning that the Bluegrass State lost more men than all of the other states combined.)

Louisville Story Program, Louisville
“I Said Bang! A History of the Dirt Bowl”

“‘I Said Bang!’: A History of the Dirt Bowl, the Crown Jewel of the Most Basketball-Obsessed City in America,” examines the history of a basketball tournament that started in 1968 to bridge communities and begin community healing in a city reeling with social unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Within a year it was drawing thousands of spectators and the “Dirt Bowl” continues today as a unifying element in the city.

Honor Sachs, Asheville, North Carolina
“Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier”

“Home Rule” uses the Kentucky frontier to show readers that the “independent man” so celebrated in the U.S. history of westward expansion was only possible through the work of wives, children, the enslaved and servants. Sachs’s work strengthens our understanding of early Kentucky and makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on the Revolutionary period.

Karl J. Lietzenmayer, Covington
“Northern Kentucky Heritage”
“Northern Kentucky Heritage” magazine uses an array of articles, book reviews and illustrations to interpret the history of this unique region. Articles have brought attention to once-forgotten stories, have confirmed and debunked local legends and have sparked important conversations in a variety of Kentucky communities.


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