Since 1960, the Ohio Local History Alliance – in partnership with the Ohio History Connection – has led the state in recognizing excellent projects, programs, publications created by Ohio historical societies and museums, as well as recognizing individuals who have contributed greatly to the field of history.
At the 2022 Annual Meeting, OLHA presented 11 Outstanding Achievement Awards to a selection of organizations and individuals that have inspired, connected, and educated their audiences in Ohio.
Learn more about the winners and their projects from the descriptions below, and consider submitting your Outstanding Achievements for the awards in 2023!
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
- Martha Flint, The Upton Association – Martha has volunteered with the Upton Association for over twenty years and is currently in her second term as President of the Association. The organization was formed in 1989 to preserve the home of Harriet Taylor Upton, and Marti is highly dedicated to honoring the Upton’s legacy. She served as the Upton Volunteer Chairman for sixteen years and is always the first person to volunteer to do whatever needs to be done. Marti worked on the Upton Garden and the Women’s Park Committees for seventeen years, serving as the chairman of the Women’s Park Committee for the past twelve years. The Women’s Park, maintained by the Upton Association, honors women and is a treasure in the city of Warren. In addition to her work with the Upton Association, Marti is also a member of the Trumbull Historical Society, the Hartford Historical Society, and chairman of the Women’s Equality Day committee, which organizes an annual celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
- Gail Wood, Oberlin Heritage Center – Gail Wood has made a deep and long-lasting impact in Oberlin, both as a 37-year elementary school teacher and as a volunteer and trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center. Her collaborative work with fellow teachers to create local history curriculum in the 1980s, which included field trips and a unique textbook, has since taught thousands of children about the people, events, landmarks, and services that make their community special and their own. Her twelve years of board service with the Oberlin Heritage Center, including as its current President, have guided the organization through strategic planning, educational program development, the writing of an Oberlin history comic book, major
leadership transitions, fundraising campaigns that have sustained the organization through difficult
times, and reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Gail epitomizes the best of leadership by sharing her time and talents, acting as an ambassador for the Heritage Center and community of Oberlin, and inspiring others through knowledge and enthusiasm so that they may set their own course for a better future.
- Brent Carson, Delaware County Historical Society – Dedicated, dependable, creative, humorous, hard-working, fun-loving, and devoted are only a few words to describe Brent’s lifelong interest in keeping the history of Delaware County not only alive but ever-present to the people in Delaware County.
Before his retirement, Brent was a social studies teacher. He created an annual springtime Delaware
Week that included daily walks around town noting the history of each section. This became a rite of
passage for all students in Delaware City Schools. Upon retirement, Brent continued these programs for
classrooms and community groups around the county. Brent is highly visible in the county, and when people see him on the street, he is often referred to as Mr. Delaware. Brent has been a member of the Delaware County Historical Society since he graduated from college in 1970 some 52 years ago. He served as the President of the Board for eleven of those years and was a Board member for fourteen years. Brent has recruited retired teachers and other community members to volunteer for the organization and has participated in community projects that include historic markers, bicentennial activities and raising a statue of Rutherford B. Hayes in downtown Delaware.
Media and Publications
- Scioto Literary/Peerless City Productions, “Peerless City Documentary” – The Peerless City documentary is a feature-length, nonfiction film that explores the economic and civic rise, decline, and rise of Portsmouth, Ohio through the lens of three slogans embraced by the city over the last 100 years: the early 1900s “Peerless Portsmouth”, the 1960s “Where Hospitality Begins”, and, more recently, a small group of local entrepreneurs have started to call Portsmouth the “Comeback City.” The film examines the history of each of these three slogans, the impact of each on the people who live there, and the influence each has had on creating a collective vision for which the city strives. The Peerless City documentary is the first project for Scioto Literary/Peerless City Productions. The organizations secured a commitment from WOSU television, raised $31,000 in funding, and even expanded from its original goals to include a Summer Fellows program in which three paid interns worked on documentary production, social media presence, and grant writing efforts. The documentary was also a key event of Appalachian Foothills Festival of Literary. Amanda Page explained, “The documentary has been central to both the launch and growth of the
organization and continues to aid in relationship-building and outreach efforts. It has set the expectation
for our organization.”
Exhibits or Displays
- Lorain Historical Society, “Latino Lorain History Project” – In September 2019 three partners–the Lorain Historical Society, Oberlin College, and El Centro–created the Latino Lorain History Project. The goal was to collect the stories of people who came to Lorain from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and a variety of other countries in Central America. The stories were combined into an exhibit that memorialized and honored 100 years of Latino History in Lorain. The focus of the exhibit was Vine Avenue–the center of business, culture, spirituality, and nightlife in South Lorain. It was representative of the blending of many cultures and in later years some described it as a little Puerto Rico, until its destruction by Urban Renewal in the 1970s. The project and exhibit helped strengthen civic pride within the Latino community itself and the organization’s connections to that community. The goal in creating this exhibit was to capture the essence of how significant the Hispanic community is to the story of Lorain’s history. Lorain Historical Society staff stated, “We were beyond pleased to see how the project brought members of the community together as they worked toward a common goal.”
- Wood County Museum, “Allure & Illusion: A Rose Colored Romance” – The Wood County Historical Society used items from its permanent collection were used to create the exhibit “Allure & Illusion: A Rose-Colored Romance.” The exhibit focused on the foundation of wedding-themed consumer culture, ceremonial aspects of marriage, and identifying the foundation of the American Dream and how the definition has changed over time. The central focus of the exhibit are the 41 wedding dresses, 1855-2001.
This exhibit was outstanding for Wood County Historical Society for a number of reasons. It provided a
great opportunity to collaborate with the Bowling Green State University Pat Browne Library for
Popular Culture Studies, who loaned their Harlequin Romance Cover Art Collection. Curator Holly A.
Kirkendall made it a top priority to contact the former dress owners and/or a family member of each dress in the exhibit, which provided a significant and meaningful history for each piece.
- Wyandot County Historical Society, “Artz Department Store Exhibit” – During the spring of 2022, curators and volunteers with the Wyandot County Historical Society renovated a former bedroom in the Beery/McConnel Home into an immersive, walk-through exhibit recreating the former Artz Department Store in downtown Upper Sandusky, which operated from 1897-1992. Using artifacts and clothing from the Society’s collections, the McDaniel Room was transformed into a 1920s/1930s era store complete with changing rooms, stockroom, and several cases representing various departments of women’s clothing.
The new exhibit featuring the Artz Department Store is a from the traditional period room exhibition
style at the Wyandot County Museum. The exhibit helped connect community members with their past
and with the historical society. Wyandot Historical Society states, “This truly became a community
project where numerous stories, artifacts and images were donated to the Wyandot County Historical
Society, increasing our collections relating to the store, even before we opened the display.”
- Clinton County History Center, “Talking Tombstones: A Live Historic Sugar Grove Cemetery Tour” – The first-ever Talking Tombstones living history event at Sugar Grove Cemetery was held by the Clinton
County History Center on a beautiful late October day. Local citizens dressed in period clothing brought
historical residents to life for about 200 attendees as character actors shared a 5- to 10-minute story of
each local individual’s history, standing graveside at their person of interest. The cemetery walk was a new and innovative way for the organization to use living history as a means to educate the greater community. In addition to the walk, the Clinton County History Center developed publicity materials and a brochure that included information on the historical residents and cemetery history. The event welcomed over two-hundred attendees for its inaugural year and raised approximately four-thousand dollars for the History Center.
- The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, “20th Anniversary Observance of 9/11” – The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument held a Memorial Service for the 20th Anniversary
of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks on Saturday, September 11, 2021. The two-part ceremony began inside the memorial room of the Monument with community, civic and religious leaders marking the time of each of the significant moments in the timeline of September 11, 2001 by placing wreaths and observing moments of silence. This group of presenters represented six diverse religious communities, civic leaders from across the political spectrum, and a Gold Star Family. The second part commenced outside of the Monument where a formal Memorial Service was held. Military representatives for all branches presented wreaths as well as representatives for first responder departments. Both parts of the ceremonies were live streamed to Facebook and were carried by several media organizations on their web platforms. As an organization that memorializes the service of the men and women of Cuyahoga County who served during the Civil War, The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument often mark military holidays. While different from their usual programming, the 20th Anniversary program was founded in the organizations core values and provided a meaningful service marking this important milestone.
- Mason Historical Society, “Fatal Flight and the Nuclear Scare in Mason” – In the early days of the Korean War, a B50 Bomber crashed just north of Mason, Ohio. The Mason Historical Society explored this event, developing a complete in-depth analysis of the times, the mission, the plane, the crew (16 airmen) and the crash itself. Researcher Sally Sherman Caudill uncovered new information, including that a nuclear bomb was on the plane at the time of the crash, a fact the US Government denied. Since the first presentation, word has spread about this program and Sally has presented it throughout Warren County. It has educated the public about a historic event long forgotten, except by family members who lost fathers and grandfathers in the accident. The organization believes that “Bringing this local history to light coupled with the interest of so many various community groups has shone a positive light on the Mason Historical Society and the work we do to promote and preserve Mason’s history.”
- Shelby County Historical Society, Field of Crosses and Vietnam Wall – The Field of Crosses and the AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall linked the entire Shelby County Community for the week of September 12-19, 2021. Though postponed from Sidney’s 2020 Bicentennial events, over 300 volunteers of all ages, worked together to make this event a huge success. Over 5,000 community members attended the week’s worth of events. The backdrop for the Vietnam Wall was 1,000 handmade wooden crosses bearing the names of nearly 8,000 soldiers who paid the ultimate price since the Vietnam War. The crosses were made by students in the carpentry class at the Upper Valley Career Center, along with historical society volunteers. An eternal flame representing all branches of the military stood in the middle of the field. Approximately 1,000 motorcycles participated in the Rolling Thunder Vietnam Wall Escort from Wapakoneta to Custenborder Field in Sidney. The week-long program also included educational events for local school children, a military concert, a Cruise-In and a bench dedication.