Historians in Washington receive prestigious recognition

Tacoma, WA - Each year, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) recognizes excellence in advancing the field of history in...

Tacoma, WA – Each year, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) recognizes excellence in advancing the field of history in the Evergreen State with seven special awards focused on research, teaching, publishing, and advancing the understanding of cultural diversity in Washington.

The annual History Awards celebrate the women and men who have promoted state history. Nominations are solicited by the Washington State Historical Society and anyone can submit a nomination for any of the awards. Each year a committee of historians reviews the nominations and has the difficult task of selecting the honorees from among the many accomplished Washingtonians who have contributed to public history. John Hughes, chair of the awards selection committee, said “The 2019 nominees for the two writing awards and lifetimes of dedication to sharing Washington history were among the most deserving we’ve seen.”

If you wish to submit a nomination for the 2020 awards, contact Allison Campbell, Allison.Campbell@wshs.wa.gov.

The History Awards are normally presented in person at the Society’s annual meeting, and attendees have an opportunity to meet and hear from the award recipients. However, in response to health and safety concerns and recommendations from the Office of the Governor related to COVID-19, this year’s recipients will be honored through individual, detailed posts on the Society’s Facebook page and social media (@WashingtonHistory) during the week of September 13-18, 2020. On Saturday, September 19, the Society’s annual meeting and recognition of the awards will be shared on social media in a prerecorded message from Director Jennifer Kilmer. Tune in to learn more about the fascinating work and accomplishments of these award recipients!

2019 History Awards Honorees

Robert Gray Medal:

The Robert Gray Medal is the highest award bestowed by the Washington State Historical Society. It recognizes distinguished and long-term contributions to Pacific Northwest history.

The 2019 award goes to Dr. Dale Soden, Professor of History at Whitworth University, in recognition of his significant contributions to the study and teaching of Pacific Northwest history. Dr. Soden’s research and frequent publications have focused on the ways the PNW has been significantly influenced politically and socially by individuals who were highly motivated by religious convictions, including examinations of the role that African American pastors and churches played in the civil rights struggles on the west coast. As an innovative teacher, Dr. Soden is renowned for his leading of folk songs, but most notably Roll on Columbia in which he asks his students to sing to him on the phone as they cross the Columbia River.

Charles Gates Memorial Award:

This longstanding award recognizes the most significant achievement among all articles published in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly during the previous year.

For 2019, this award is given to Dr. Zhongping Chen for his article, Chinese Labor Contractors and Laborers of the Canadian Pacific Railway, 2880-2885, published in the winter 2018/2019 issue of Pacific Northwest Quarterly. His research interests include the history of late Qing and early Republican China as well as the global Chinese diaspora. Dr. Chen’s publications include dozens of journal articles and five books in Chinese and English.

John McClelland, Jr. Award:

The John McClelland, Jr. Award is presented for the article that most exhibits the readability and interest sought after by COLUMBIA–The Magazine of Northwest History, published quarterly by Washington State Historical Society.

Dr. Quin’Nita Cobbins-Modica receives the 2019 award for her article, Finding Peace Across the Ocean: Daisy Tibbs Dawson and the Rebuilding of Hiroshima, published in the spring 2019 issue of COLUMBIA. Dr. Cobbins-Modica is an historian of African American women’s history in the American West. She currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of History at Gonzaga University and is the director of BlackPast.org.

Peace and Friendship Award:

There are two awards annually in this category. One is presented to a Native American and the other to a non-Native individual or collaborative for work in advancing public understanding of the cultural diversity of the peoples of Washington State.

Randy Lewis, (Wenatchi/P’squosa, Methow, Okanogan) receives this award for his dedication to fostering intercultural dialogue and understanding. Born on the Colville Indian Reservation and raised immersed in the teachings of his people, Randy has drawn on the strength of this foundation to become a renowned Indigenous political activist in Washington state and a treasured oral historian. Currently serving as a consultant and volunteer at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, Randy shares the history and teachings that are his ancestral inheritance with audiences throughout the State. He is known as a warmly engaging speaker who brings ancient stories to life, imparting their lessons and gifts to new generations.

Also winning the award for their collaborative efforts on the exhibition Beyond Borders: The Indipino Community of Bainbridge Island are Joann Oligario and Jeanine Greco. This exhibition at the Kitsap History Museum in Bremerton was the first to examine the history of the marriages of First Nations women and Filipino American men on Bainbridge Island during World War II.

Joann Oligario (Squamish, Sechelt) is a tireless advocate for Indigenous, civil, labor and women’s rights and has devoted her life to collecting and documenting the history of her family and others in her Indipino community. Joann grew up on her family’s farm on Bainbridge Island. She joined the Navy and served as a nurse in the Vietnam War, later becoming a radiological technician. As an elder of the Indipino community, Joann has facilitated cross-cultural fellowship and increased understanding of the historic events that brought the founders of her community together.

Jeanine Greco is the curator at the Kitsap History Museum in Bremerton and acted as staff lead and cultural liaison in the research, planning, and design of Beyond Borders. Her work on the exhibition began with a meeting with Indipino elders, ensuring that the voices and experiences of the Indipino community were centered throughout the narrative. Jeanine acted as facilitator for the story and consulted with elders at every step, building meaningful relationships and trust between communities.

Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History:

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History is presented to an outstanding certified teacher of Pacific Northwest history in an accredited K-12 school in Washington or to an educator in a nonprofit organization.

The History Awards Review Committee received one incomplete application for this award for 2019. Given the pressures teachers are facing related to school closures and remote education during 2020, the committee decided not to present this award this year and to double its efforts to promote nominations for the award next year.

David Douglas Award:

The David Douglas Award recognizes the significant contribution of an individual or an organization that informs or expands appreciation of Washington state history.

The 2019 award is given to Dr. Larry Cebula, who holds joint positions as director of the Public History Program at Eastern Washington University and assistant director of the Washington State Digital Archives. In his role as director of the Public History Program at EWU, Dr. Cebula has educated students who now hold positions in museums, national parks, city preservation commissions, and other public programs across the state and the nation. Larry has pioneered public history projects that are not only important in their own right, but also models for similar programs across the nation. His Northwest History blog won the Cleopatria Award and his digital resource, Spokane-Historical, features more than 500 geotagged entries on historic sites in the Spokane region.

R. Lorraine Wojahn Award:

This award recognizes outstanding volunteer service advancing the work of the Washington State Historical Society.

Don Meeker is the recipient of this award for his significant contribution to the Society and the people of Washington through his work digitizing oversized material in the collections. He faithfully comes in fourteen hours a week and in four years has scanned and added to the database over 6,000 photographs and negatives, maps, ephemera, and art. Don has created a detailed users’ manual for the complex digitization equipment that will enable future volunteers and staff to continue this important work.

Please join your Washington State Historical Society in congratulating these individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the field of history in our state. See our website WashingtonHistory.org and follow our social media @washingtonhistory for more details about these award recipients.

About The Washington State Historical Society: The Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) is located in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue among a thriving cultural scene. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions about Washington’s past in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions. Note: The museum is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

– Washington State Historical Society


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