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Kentucky Historical Society honoring 14 individuals and organizations at annual History Awards

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) is recognizing fourteen individuals and/or organizations in various categories for their contributions to the field of history. The awards will be presented at the Kentucky Historical Society’s Annual Meeting and History Awards celebration on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at 7:00 pm. This virtual program will stream live on the KHS YouTube channel, featuring both live and pre-recorded segments, and will be posted on all KHS media outlets after the event. Winners are from across the state, and categories include a range of disciplines from education to publication, along with special awards named after some of the Commonwealth’s greatest historians.  These include the Frank Levstik Award, the James C. Klotter Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History, and the Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence.

Special Awards

Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence

Traces: Enslaved at Ashland Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, Lexington, Fayette County The Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence is presented to a local history organization for outstanding achievement throughout the year.  Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate's new guided tour, "Traces: Enslaved at Ashland," launched in March 2020. It is the first, regularly scheduled guided slavery tour at a historic house museum in the state. Traces was built as a community-drive and community-informed tour, built on extensive archival and audience research. The team at Ashland, including ED Jim Clark, curator Eric Brooks, and led by Manager of Tours and Education Cameron Walpole, sought guidance from descendant communities of those enslaved at Ashland, engaged world-renowned scholars, and built relationships with local groups including Black Soil: Our Better Nature. The work, though focused on Traces, has informed all aspects of Ashland's services, including updates to the signature house tour, docent training, and the artifact collection. Traces: Enslaved at Ashland is an outstanding example of collaboration and inclusion that is a standard basis for museums across the Commonwealth.  

James C. Klotter Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History

Sandy Staebell, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Warren County The James C. Klotter Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History Award is presented to an individual who has consistently shown support for history and history projects in their community or region and has initiated or participated in a special project that has brought wide recognition to some facet of state or local history. Sandy Staebell has served as the Registrar and Collections Curator for the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University for over 30 years. She has been involved in all aspects of the museum's collection development and stewardship, has participated in the research and development of exhibitions, researched and published using the museum's collections, and shared those fruits of her labor with audiences across the country. She has consistently supported history and history projects in South-Central Kentucky, has worked collaboratively, and provided opportunities for lifelong learning.  

Award of Distinction

Tim Tomes Archdiocese of Louisville, Louisville, Jefferson County The Award of Distinction is presented to a non-paid individual who, as a volunteer, board member or organization member, has made a significant contribution to state and local history during his or her career at one or more museums, historical societies, genealogical societies, or other history-related organizations. Tim Tomes organized a five-year effort to restore Kentucky artist Matthew Harris Jouett's The Dead Christ Mourned (the Three Maries) after Carracci. Owned by the Archdiocese of Louisville, the painting was in ill repair and nearly lost. Tomes oversaw two years of research and fundraising, two years of conservation, and a final year of exhibition of the restored painting at the Speed Art Museum. Tomes undertook this work as a volunteer, marshaling funds, support, and partnerships to ensure this important piece of Kentucky art was preserved and made available to a new generation of Kentuckians. By partnering with the Speed and providing historical context for the painting, Tomes brought Jouett's masterpiece back to the public and helped the Diocese expand their service to the Louisville region by sharing the work.   Frank R. Levstik Award Tommy Hines South Union Shaker Village, Auburn, Logan County The Frank R. Levstik Award for Professional Service is presented to a current or recently retired (within the last two years) paid staff member of a museum, historical society, genealogical society or other history-related organization in Kentucky who has demonstrated exemplary work and dedication to their institution. Their work must have been instrumental in raising the overall professionalism of history organizations and museums in Kentucky through participation and leadership roles in organizations or been in active service to other organizations through workshops, presentations, research, publications or other activities. Tommy Hines, the Executive Director of South Union Shaker Village in Logan County, has served his site and region for more than 30 years. He has grown the Village through the acquisition of nearly 500 acres and seven buildings. He has preserved six Shaker buildings and helped restore and interpret the Shakers' history in the region. He serves as a member of the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance board of directors and the Green River Heritage Society board. Tommy's service to his region and to the history of South Union Shaker Village exemplify the basis of the Frank R. Levstik award.  

Volunteer Group

William Whitley House Volunteers Lincoln County Historical Society, Stanford, Lincoln County The Volunteer group award is presented to an organization managed exclusively by volunteers or a volunteer group. These groups have made a substantial contribution of time and/or talents that benefit a state or local history organization or project and/or have helped make a historical organization a more effective service provider in the community. In early 2019, the William Whitley State Historic Site was transferred from the Kentucky Department of Parks to the Lincoln County Fiscal Court. The Lincoln County Historical Society stepped up, through volunteers, to maintain and staff the William Whitely House and the Sportsman Hill racetrack. Twenty-eight volunteers worked as tour guides, gift shop associates, as cleaning and decorating crews and staff for onsite events. Volunteers continue to provide research and update tours and trainings to reflect best practices. The group works diligently to provide a high-quality experience through volunteer service, helping the Fiscal Court sustain the site.  

Community Impact Award

Clay County Historical Society, Manchester, Clay County The Community Impact Award is presented to an organization for providing long-term engagement and expanded access to history and the humanities through community work. The Clay County Historical Society has sustained 35 years of engaging work. This year, they opened a new exhibition, The Clay We Were Museum, worked with Clay County High School to sponsor a visit from the HistoryMobile and hosted workshops and programs for the community. They also partnered with the Manchester Tourism commission, Eastern Kentucky University Manchester campus, and grew their membership by over 100 new members. The Clay County Historical Society continues to bring the past alive for the entire county through strong partnerships with government, business, and community organizations.  

Education Awards

Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year Award

Jami McCoy Allen Eastern High School, Louisville, Jefferson County Jami McCoy Allen has been in the classroom for over a decade and holds two master's degrees from the University of Louisville, one in teaching secondary education and the other in early American history. Allen is passionate about inquiry teaching and sees it as promoting the complexity of student thinking. She believes that by allowing students to question and pursue their "own" learning, they become adept at locating and evaluating primary and secondary sources, more confident in expressing their own opinions, and show sustained interest in classroom learning. Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. Territories. In fall 2020, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.  

Programming Award

"Journey to the Vote" Western Kentucky University & community partners, Bowling Green, Warren County Community partners in Warren County, including WKU professors, Kentucky Museum curators, WKU librarians, and staff of the Warren County Public Library, came together to create more than a year worth of programming to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The programs included public panel discussions with women who hold local and state public offices, work to empower girls in grades 1-8, and a multi-year exhibition at the Kentucky Museum. The programming provided rigor, value, relevance, and multiple forms of accessibility for Bowling Green and surrounding communities.  

Multimedia Award

Podcast: "Compelling History of an American Other" Rebekah Brummett, South Union Shaker Village, Auburn, Logan County The 2020 multimedia education award is given to Rebekah Brummett for her podcast series, "Compelling History of an American Other," as it shares the history of South Union Shaker Village. In the first episode, Brummett explored the role South Union played in transforming the lives of children in crisis. Brummett showcases South Union's manuscript collections and uses secondary research to supplement the narrative. The podcast is available throughout the U.S. and continues to provide new content, sharing the story of South Union shakers and helping to bring new listeners and potential visitors to the site.  

Special Project Award

Podcast: "Murder, Memory, and Martyrdom: The Assassination of Governor William Goebel" Jonathon L. Earle, Centre College, Danville, Boyle County Thirty Centre College undergraduates, led by Dr. Jonathon Earle, spent January 2020 reassessing the history and legacies of the assassination of Kentucky Gov. William Goebel. Students conducted over 270 combined hours of archival research throughout Central Kentucky. Working with partner institutions at KHS, the Filson Historical Society, the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, and the University of Kentucky, the students created six podcast episodes and an interactive website. The innovative research and outputs excited students and showed excellent collaboration while engaging a contested historical subject.  

Publication Awards

Collins Award

Dr. Crystal N. Feimster, Yale University Crystal Feimster is recognized for her article, "Keeping a Disorderly House in Civil War Kentucky." The article is part of a Register special issue on the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, Vol. 117, No. 2, Spring 2019. Dr. Feimster is an associate professor in the departments of African American Studies and History and the programs of American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. As noted by one Register Editorial Board member, Dr. Feimster's article is a fascinating and richly textured article that charts new territory in the history of sexuality, prostitution, and womanhood during the Civil War era. The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society's annual Collins Award is given to an article in the Register from the previous year's volume deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to Kentucky history.  

Private Press Award

Into the Bluegrass: Art and Artistry of Kentucky's Historic Icons Mel Hankla, Hitchens, Carter County Into the Bluegrass showcases rare examples of the Commonwealth's early material culture while telling the stories of early white settlers in Kentucky. Hankla ties the development of Kentucky's early artists to the signature Kentucky Longrifle, which required fine metalwork and sculpted wood. Drawing on Kentucky cultural institutions and Hankla's personal collection, the images and narrative tell a story of early Kentucky artistry that highlights familiar and less known people, including Polly Hawkins Craig and Captain Jack Hart.  

Pamphlet/other Printed Material

Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society The 2019 Journal of the Jackson Purchase includes meeting minutes, original essays, an interview, and book reviews. Essays explored the Night Riders and their campaigns of intimidation, the World War I exploits of a Sedalia, Kentucky native, the role of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in spreading the Lost Cause narrative, and oral history methodology showcased through the coursework of Murray State University and West Kentucky Technical and Community College students. The breadth of topics and their relevance to the Jackson Purchase region today make the 2019 issue especially strong. The dedication of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society to include advanced undergraduate work and to review scholarly books of general interest to the region is also commendable.  


Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky's Forgotten Ballad Collector Elizabeth DiSavino, Berea College (UNIVERSITY PRESS) This book, deeply researched and showcasing never-before-seen artifacts and materials held by Katherine Jackson French's granddaughter, reclaims French's life and legacy. Only the second woman to earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University, French played a pivotal role in Appalachian music's resurgence but was caught in academic infighting, prejudice, and broken promises. DiSavino artfully weaves French's biography and the Appalachian ballads in her narrative. She argues that had French been able to publish her work, a century of Appalachian stereotypes may not have persisted. DiSavino's text, paired with her performance of traditional Kentucky ballads, makes Katherine Jackson French's life and struggles jump from the page and helps readers connect to the subject.

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