2015 State History Awards

The Historical Society of Michigan awarded 16 top honors during its annual State History Conference, which was held in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 25-27, 2015. The Society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history. The awards are the highest recognition presented by the Historical Society of Michigan, the state’s official historical society and oldest cultural organization.history-award-emblem---with-date-low-res

The winners are: (Detailed descriptions of each recipient are listed below.)

  • Lifetime Achievement Award—John C. Mitchell from Northport
  • Distinguished Volunteer Service—Diana Borrusch from Oakland Township
  • Books: University & Commercial Press—
    • “Asian Americans in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest” edited by Victor Jew and Sook Wilkinson, Wayne State University Press
    • “Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living” by Brian C. Wilson, Indiana University Press
    • “Malcolm X’s Michigan Worldview” by Rita Kiki Edozie and Curtis Stokes, Michigan State University Press
    • “Ottawa Stories from the Springs” by Howard Webkamigad, Michigan State University Press
  • Books: Private Printing—
    • “DeZwaan: The True Story of America’s Authentic Dutch Windmill” by Alisa Crawford
    • “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny & Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court” by David B. Schock
  • Books: Children & Youth—“Great Girls in Michigan History” by Patricia Majher
  • Communications: Printed Periodicals—“Reliving the Rochester Era,” produced by the Rochester-Avon Historical Society
  • Education: Educator—Ginger Ketelsen from Rochester, teacher at Rochester Public Schools
  • Education: Educational Programs—Adam Hellebuyck, teacher at University Liggett School, for the program “Approaching the National Narrative through a local Lens”
  • Distinguished Professional Service—Kristen Chinery from Detroit
  • Restoration/Preservation—Paula Jamison for the “Restoration of the Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association Building”
  • Special Programs/Events—Phil Porter for the “Michigan War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission”
  • Best Article in Michigan History magazine—“The Making of the Mustang” by Jay Follis

2015-groupThe State History Conference explores significant people, places and events in Michigan’s past through a diverse offering of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, workshops and tours. Each year, the conference moves to a different location within the Lower Peninsula to feature the local history of that area and to address notable statewide historical matters. The Historical Society of Michigan also hosts the Upper Peninsula History Conference, which focuses on the history of the U.P., and Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference, which concentrates on Southeast Michigan and statewide history.

The 2015 State History Conference was sponsored and hosted by Saginaw Valley State University and Castle Museum of Saginaw County History.

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft. A nongovernmental nonprofit, the Society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s rich history.

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John C. Mitchell from Northport, Mich., was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a lifelong historian, Michigan educator and award-winning author. Mitchell completed his first historical research project in 1961. His desire to research history and share his knowledge led to his first published book. Mitchell then teamed with noted illustrator Tom Woodruff and created a series of popular history books for Michigan children. Their success placed Mitchell in high demand to conduct in-school presentations. He then successfully customized educational programs based on Michigan history, including the widely popular Writers in Residence elementary school program, which was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Diana Borrusch from Oakland Township received the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award. The Oakland Township Historical Society is almost completely dependent on community support and the time, energy and dedication of individuals who volunteer their services. For more than 20 years, Borrusch has served and supported the Oakland Township Historical Society. Almost since the founding of the organization in 1974, Borrusch has been an active member. In the 1990s, her passion for the goals of the society caused her to take responsibility for its survival and to lead a successful effort to turn the failing organization around.

A State History Award in the category of University and Commercial Press Books was presented to Sook Wilkinson and Victor Jew for “Asian Americans in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest,” published by Wayne State University Press. Recollections of 41 contributors give a glimpse into Michigan’s Asian-American communities. Their accounts span from first-generation immigrants to fourth-generation Asian Americans. The book explores the historical and demographic origins of Michigan’s Asian-American communities, examines the contributors’ experiences in keeping memories and legacies alive, highlights their communities’ culture and heritage, and discusses their hopes for the future. Universal values and memories held by larger communities are also revealed.

In the category of Books: Commercial and University Presses, Dr. Brian Wilson was presented a State History Award for “Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living.” It was published by Indiana University Press. John Harvey Kellogg was a complex figure in the history of wellness, religion and dietary reform and for his work with the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He argued that biological science and religion could create a worldview that linked physical well-being with morality. This well-researched and documented biography explores these complexities in a broader context.

Rita Kiki Edozie and Curtis Stokes received a State History Award in the category of University and Commercial Press Books for “Malcolm X’s Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies,” published by Michigan State University. This book deepens the reader’s insights into the life of a controversial American. Studies of Malcolm X have raised many questions. What was his association with the Nation of Islam? Did he eventually trend toward socialism? How did growing up in Michigan shape and inform his worldview? What is his legacy? This book examines key aspects of the Black world experience and contributes to the intellectual expansion of the Black studies discipline.

Howard Webkamigad received a State History Award in the category of University and Commercial Press Books for “Ottawa Stories from the Springs,” published by Michigan State University. Janet Willets, a Michigan State University anthropology graduate student, recorded stories told by the Anishinaabe-speaking people. She preserved those rich tales on a copper wire format that was preserved by the American Philosophical Society. Webkamigad had those stories transcribed, translated into English and published in book form. The author provides readers with side-by-side Anishinaabe/English translations. The stories provide unique insights into the Anishinaabe history and culture, honoring the speakers of the past and carrying their voices into the future.

Alisa Crawford received a State History Award for “De Zwaan: The True Story of America’s Authentic Dutch Windmill” in the category of Books: Private Printing. This book tells the story of the only authentic operating Dutch windmill in the United States. De Zwaan was likely built in 1761 in the Netherlands. It suffered substantial damage during World War II. Unable to afford the restoration, the mill’s owner looked to area governments for help but was eventually forced to sell. The Windmill was disassembled in 1964 and shipped to Muskegon. Later, it was shipped to Holland, where it has been the jewel of the community since 1965.

Judge Elizabeth A. Weaver and Dr. David B. Schock received a State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing for their work “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny & Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court.” It was published by Peninsula Press. This tome documents the inner workings of the Supreme Court and the reasons Weaver was sharply critical of her colleagues. It describes how one explosive fellow justice repeatedly browbeat staff, justices violated fundraising practices, and justices behaved as activists and changed the law from the bench. Weaver’s attempts to warn or stop them resulted in attacks against her.

In the category of Books: Children and Youth, Patricia Majher was presented with a State History Award for “Great Girls in Michigan History.” It was published by Wayne State University Press. The book focuses on Michigan girls who made great achievements before they left their teen years. The biographies include deceased and living women. Each biography contains a photo, drawing or portrait of the person. The author provides additional sources for each of the girls and suggestions on places to visit that are associated with them. This book is written for a youth audience yet would be of interest to anyone.

The 2015 Communications: Printed Periodicals Award was presented to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society for its monthly newsletter “Reliving the Rochester Era.” The society’s newsletter serves as the primary mode of communication for its membership. It includes a wide range of pertinent topics, including highlights of the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s many activities and programs, important announcements of upcoming events, a column by the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s president, and a popular section profiling new society members. It is also used as a successful recruitment tool. Newsletter editor Leslie Mack preserves the community’s history by imparting information that appeals to diverse age groups.

The State History Award for Educator of the Year was presented to Ginger Ketelsen of Rochester. As a third-grade Rochester Public Schools teacher, Ketelsen kept her sights trained on educational opportunities. She helped create Dinosaur Hills Nature Preserve to instill an understanding of history and earth science in students. She also helped develop the Pioneer Homestead and Playground to invite children to work and play as early settlers to Michigan. In addition; Ketelsen created a three-day immersion program at the Stoney Creek One-Room Schoolhouse and taught the history of every current structure within the village of Rochester. After retiring, Ketelsen volunteered at Rochester Hills Museum at VanHoosen Farm.

The State History Award for Educational Programs was awarded to Adam Hellebuyck and University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods for a program that teaches history through a place-based approach. Liggett educators questioned why students learn about historical places without studying the contemporary places they attend school and live. The “Approaching the National Narrative through a local Lens” program involves students stepping outside the classroom to visit sites rather than simply reading about them in the classroom. It focuses on the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and Great Lakes region. Local and regional case studies take students through the “grand schemes” of U.S. history in the place-based course.

Kristen Chinery from Detroit received the Distinguished Professional Service Award. As the reference archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Chinery is responsible for managing all aspects of manuscript reference services. And previously as Reuther’s Librarian, she had charge of all secondary and non-manuscript primary-source collections. As part of the Michigan Archival Association (MAA), Chinery served on the audit committee, was treasurer and membership chair, served as MAA’s president, and filled an unexpected conference coordinator vacancy. She is the current representative to the Society of American Archivists Regional Archival Associations, where she created the Grant Resource Guide, which details grant opportunities both regionally and nationally.

The Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association was awarded a State History Award for the category of Restoration/Preservation. The Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association building was dedicated in 1879 as the first edifice in the United States constructed by and for a women’s organization. Planning and supervision of construction was monitored by women. The structure has been actively in use by women’s organizations since its dedication. The structure and its contents have remained remarkably intact. Twenty-first-century expectations required that more comprehensive restoration and renovation be accomplished. By mustering community support, preservation and restoration work was undertaken to address modern expectations.

The Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 was awarded the 2015 Special Programs/Events Award. Dr. William Anderson, former director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries convened a small group of Michigan citizens to take on the responsibility of implementing Governor Granholm’s Executive Order No. 2007-51 by developing educational programs, events and materials to help commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The commission has presented more than 200 special programs and events statewide focusing on Michigan’s role in that historic conflict. It has promoted ongoing public awareness and participation by working closely with several leading statewide organizations.

“The Making of the Mustang” by Jay Follis was voted the 2015 Best Article in Michigan History magazine. The article appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2014 issue. It recounted the complex story of the concept, development and production of the Mustang. The Ford Mustang is an iconic automobile designed and produced in the Motor City. However, it almost did not make it off the drawing board and into production. Initial resistance within the Ford Motor Company was overcome by Lee Iacocca and his designers. Their persistence ultimately sold the concept to the company’s administration, and in 1964, the distinctive Mustang was introduced—to record sales and much acclaim.

 

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Email hsm@hsmichigan.org | Phone (517) 324-1828 | Fax (517) 324-4370

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