Outstanding Achievement Award Winners

The Ohio Local History Alliance has led the state in recognizing excellent projects, programs, and publications produced by Ohio’s historical societies, museums, and related organizations, as well as the individuals who make them happen.  Through the Outstanding Achievement Awards, the Alliance spotlights exemplary local history programs, exhibits, media, and publications with the History Outreach Award.  The Individual Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have greatly contributed to Ohio’s historical societies and to the understanding of local history.

To nominate yourself or others for this year’s awards, check out the Outstanding Achievement Awards page.

In 2012, the Alliance awarded fifteen Outstanding Achievement Awards at the Ohio Local History Alliance annual meeting.  The projects awarded ranged from a destination guide to a comic book, and many things in between.

History Outreach Awards:

Organizations with Budgets Under $25,000 
Public Programming:

  • The Shelby County Historical Society
    How 9/11 Changed Our Lives Forever
    911This program began as a 10th anniversary project without a penny in the budget that turned into a wealth of good. An exhibit accompanying the program was enhanced with donated artwork featuring the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Local Vietnam veterans built a flag display in the historical society’s lawn, and a USO show was presented as part of “Make a Difference Day” on October 22, 2011. The memorial rooms provided a sanctuary to display the names of the over 3,000 victims from 9/11.  In addition to working with the local public schools and veterans organizations, the project also provided partnership opportunities with the Dorothy Love Retirement Community, the Blue Star Mothers, and the Lockington Methodist Church.
  • Village of Evendale Historical Commission
    civil warHistory 101: Sesquicentennial Civil War Series
    In September 2010, the Evendale Historical Commission (EHC) began discussions on the upcoming American Civil War commemoration in their efforts to provide a new series in the organization’s “History 101” programming.  As a result of their diligent historical research, nineteen lectures were developed by twelve different presenters, including Civil War reenactors Dave and Betsy Koonce and EHC charter member Ed Gassert.  EHC worked with its local Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission to record all the sessions that were then broadcast on the public cable channel.  Topics included John Hunt Morgan and his raid (Evendale’s only brush with Confederate soldiers), women in the Civil War, medical services in the Civil War, and the war in West Virginia.

Media and Publications:

  • Fort Jennings Bicentennial Book Committee, nominated by Putnam County Historical Society
    for jenningsBicentennial History of Fort Jennings
    Deb Birkemeir, looking for a project to complete while laid up from back surgery, started compiling a history of the people of Fort Jennings.  Word leaked out to friends and neighbors who asked for copies.  Then came the suggestion of a commemorative book, coordinating with the town’s efforts to commemorate the War of 1812 focusing on Fort Jenning’s role as an American supply outpost during the war.  A diverse group of thirteen individuals started meeting regularly to compare notes on public records searched and seniors interviewed.  Bicentennial History of Fort Jennings: 1812-2012 is the result of their efforts, a 320 page book of pictures, lists of veterans, school graduates, and more.
  • Alliance Historical Society
    allianceAlliance As I Knew It
    A manuscript, stored in the Society’s archives for nearly 60 years,documented the community of Alliance through the eyes of William H. Magrath, a lifelong resident.  
    An interesting read with fascinating short stories, Alliance As I Knew It provides a glimpse of the late 1800s.  Edited by Karen Perone and designed by Dick Ellicot, this is the first and only major book on life in Alliance during this period.  Magrath, a bricklayer who helped organize the Alliance Local Bricklayers Union, became a storyteller to future generations.  Historic images, maps, and an index make this work a tool for local organizations documenting the past
  • Erie County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee
    civil war 2Lake Erie Shores & Islands Destination Guide
    The Committee produced this to promote the area’s rich Civil War era history. Their goal was to provide an inclusive work in an easy to follow format. Included in the piece are 15 museums, historic sites, and local libraries in Erie and adjacent counties, as well as pre-existing self-guided tours of Sandusky.  Featured sites include the 1861-1865 war period and sites relevant to residents before and after the war. Subcommittee members involved in the project include Maggie Marconi of the Sandusky Library Follett House Museum, Angie George for the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center, and Randy Koch, president of the Erie County Historical Society and Chairman of the Erie County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee.


  • Rural Life Center, Kenyon College
    the place to beThe Place to Be
    The Place to Be explores the changing character of public life in rural society through public spaces in Knox County, both past and present.  The exhibit highlights stories collected from businesspeople, sports fans, librarians, farmers, civic leaders, grange members, restaurant patrons, and church members to explore public life in rural communities.  Using thirty color panels, the completed project includes almost a hundred interview recordings and over three hundred photographs.

Organizations with Budgets Over $25,000

Public Programming:

  • Zoar Community Association
    zoarSaturdays in Zoar
    Zoar Village (1817-1898), a communal society in the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County, appeals to both researchers and visitors. The Zoar Community Association established “Saturdays in Zoar Free Speakers Series” to address questions about the village. Eleven programs were presented through the series, featuring lectures, historic character portrayals, and musical lessons. Even Zoarite descendants delighted in the programming, especially if their ancestors had not shared details of their life in the community. Becka Hackett Lash, assistant site manager, coordinated the speakers, publicity, and grant writing to defray expenses, which resulted in well-attended and diverse programming.
  • Quaker Heritage Center at Wilmington College
    lincolnLincoln Dinner & Lincoln Day
    Ohio Civil War 150 AmeriCorps volunteer Melanie Janiszewski with the Quaker Heritage Center prepared a program to coordinate with the traveling exhibit from the American Library Association and National Constitution Center, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” scheduled for display January-February 2012. Researching 4th grade social studies standards, Janiszewski, under the tutelage of curator Ruth Brindle Dobyns, prepared educational materials, allowing 4th grade students to participate in programming for Lincoln Day on the Wilmington College campus.  A Lincoln dinner held for the exhibit preview also served as a fundraising initiative, resulting in a sold out event and a successful relationship building endeavor. These donations helped provide funding for eight separate programs during Lincoln Day.
  • Warren County Historical Society
    lunch and learnLunch and Learn Lecture Series
    The Society’s “Lunch and Learn” program has been one of the organization’s most successful programs within the last few years. Attendees pay a fee for a catered meal at the museum while listening to a guest speaker brings to life aspects from Warren County history. The topics include biographical portraits, food interests, historical novel discussions, and Ohio’s oldest hotel, the Golden Lamb. The concept for the program was inspired by the Society’s historian and education director, John Zimkus, who was often requested to give off-site lectures as part of the adult lifelong learning program at Sinclair Community College.
  • Sandusky Library Follet House Museum
    cemetary walkCemetery Walk: Civil War Heroes
    Last fall, visitors set out on a walk through the Oakland Cemetery as part of a program entitled “Civil War Heroes.”  Featuring the lives of 20 men and women involved at the home front and in battle, this program was unique in its technological enhancements. Research collected and organized by Maggie Marconi, Dorene Paul, Karen Billman, and Ron Davidson was transformed into links and blogs using QR codes for smartphones or online visitors, and a video was professionally produced with a visit to each gravesite in the original walking tour.

Media and Publications:

  • Oberlin Heritage Center
    oberlinOberlin: Origins and Onward! Exhibit
    A comic book, Oberlin: Origins and Onward! was inspired by a donor to the Oberlin Heritage Center who wanted to provide an opportunity for school children as a memorial to a dear friend, Nicholas Stevenson.  A number of individuals were involved in making history modern and approachable, including illustrator Bentley Boyd, Heritage Center volunteer Gail Wood, Oberlin Public Schools, Oberlin College, and others. The Heritage Center, through foundation grants and corporate donations, was able to provide each 3rd grade student with a comprehensive history of Oberlin in a format that was exciting for their interest level.
  • The Betts House
    The Big Shake: How the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes Rocked the Ohio River Valley
    shakeAlthough the New Madrid earthquakes affected much of the Midwest, most people living in the area today have no knowledge of this event or its impact on the region. The Big Shake exhibit at The Betts House in Cincinnati combines natural, cultural, and scientific history. Changes in topography, Tecumseh’s prediction of the quake, anchor plates and their role in construction stability, and modern seismic research are highlighted. The Big Shake is available as a traveling exhibit.

Public Programming/Media and Publications:

  • Sandusky Library Follett House Museum
    lincoln 2– ALA’s Lincoln Traveling Exhibit
    The traveling exhibit Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War was hosted by the Sandusky Library Follett House Museum in May 2012. The exhibit included a mock trail, a lecture by Michael Les Benedict, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University, titled “Abraham Lincoln and Constitutional Politics of the Civil War Era,” and a first person portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln. Adroit planning also allowed 8th grade students to tour the exhibit before going on a field trip to Gettysburg and Boston.

Individual Achievement Awards:

Organizations with Budgets Under $25,000

  • Brecksville Historical Association
    Cathie Clager
    cathieCathie Clager retired from teaching and began volunteering at the Brecksville Historical Association (BHA) on a weekly basis. She has been involved in BHA as a docent at the Squire Rich Museum, assisting with school programming, working at fundraisers, accessioning artifacts using PastPerfect, and researching genealogy requests. In commemoration of The City of Brecksville Bicentennial, Cathie served as a member of the Historian Committee, and she volunteered to research, organize, and present a series of historical programs on behalf of the Brecksville Historical Association. Her scripts were synchronized with images and placed on DVDs organized around five topics: The Center of It All, a look at the development of Brecksville from 1811 to 2011; I Know That Place, a history of landmarks in Brecksville; Heroes Part I and Part II, a history of soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the present; and Cemeteries and Their Famous Residents.

Organizations with Budgets Over $25,000

  • Black River Historical Society (BRHS), nominated by BRHS
    couple Frank and Carolyn Sipkovsky
    The Sipkovskys joined the Black River Historical Society in 1989. They witnessed many changes and progress in the organization, especially as its growing collections resulted in the move of these artifacts into a new storage facility in 1995. Black River Historical Society president, Patricia Morrisson, shares that, “There were many people involved in the move…but…no one worked more than the Sipkovsky’s in organizing and preserving our collection.” Involved in committees for many years, the Sipkovskys took a more prominent leadership role first with Carolyn’s election to vice president in 1997 and then Frank’s selection as president in 1998. They served eight years, while also participating in Alliance conferences, stringing Christmas lights, and selling ice cream and pop from the Society’s restored milk wagon. In 2000, the Sipkovskys became life members of the historical society.
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