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Announcing the Winners of the 2023 Upper Peninsula History Awards

The Historical Society of Michigan has announced the winners of its 2023 Upper Peninsula History Awards.

Announcing the Winners of the 2023 Upper Peninsula History Awards

The Upper Peninsula History Award Logo


Written By: Historical Society of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — The Historical Society of Michigan has announced the winners of its 2023 Upper Peninsula History Awards. Each year, the Historical Society of Michigan presents two U.P.-based awards: the Charles Follo Award for individuals and the Superior Award for historical organizations located in the Upper Peninsula. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and promotion of U.P. history. The Society also will present the History Hero Award at this event, which recognizes individuals who play an important role in advancing Michigan history and have longstanding ties to HSM. 

The 2023 Upper Peninsula History Awards will be presented at the 74th Annual Upper Peninsula History Conference on Saturday, June 24, during the U.P. History Awards Banquet. Registration for the conference can be found on HSM's website. 

The Charles Follo Award is named in honor of Charles Follo, a schoolteacher from Escanaba who worked to establish historical societies and promote the history of the Upper Peninsula. This year’s recipient is Ann Jousma-Miller of Gladstone, Michigan. Jousma-Miller has been involved in a wide array of historical pursuits within Delta County and across the U.P. She has worked on several fundraising projects at the U.P. Fairgrounds and has facilitated “History and Culture Day” in Escanaba for the past 20 years. She is a member of the Soo Line Historical Society and a volunteer at the Escanaba Historical Society Museum. She worked tirelessly for the Upper Peninsula Military Museum creating a historical tribute to U.P. individuals who served in the armed forces throughout history, as well as bringing the Marble Arms exhibit back to the U.P. at the Webster Marble Museum. She has been involved in promoting the U.P. Honor Flight, which sends off and welcomes home military veterans from the Upper Peninsula. Jousma-Miller has also served as a tour guide for several entities across the U.P. and was a presenter at the 2019 Upper Peninsula History Conference. 

The Historical Society of Michigan established the Superior Award in 2006 to recognize historical societies, museums and other historical organizations that have preserved and advanced U.P. history. This year’s recipient is the Central Upper Peninsula & Northern Michigan University (NMU) Archives. The Archives' collections address the historical research needs of the public, students, and scholars. It was established in 1992 to house NMU records. Over the years, it has expanded to include regional manuscripts, information of the iron mining industry, history of politics and government, history of organized labor and labor activism, environmental conservation and preservation, and the history of the LGBTQ community. The archives also serve as a local records depository for the State of Michigan Archives. These records are acquired, maintained, and made available to researchers interested in the central U.P. The archivist also works with regional historical societies on records management and consultation. The Archives serves as a resource to promote, teach and foster learning about many aspects of Upper Peninsula history through the use of primary source materials. 

Dianne Schmitigal of Goetzville will receive HSM's History Hero Award during the 2023 Upper Peninsula History Conference. This award was created in 2017 to recognize and celebrate people who have made significant contributions to promote Michigan history and have supported the mission of HSM. 

Schmitigal, whose great-grandfather was the first European settler in the Pickford area in the Upper Peninsula, has been a positive force on behalf of preserving history in the eastern Upper Peninsula. For 14 years, she was president of the Pickford Area Historical Society. A highlight of her tenure was having the society’s museum building, which was built in 1912, added to the National Register of Historic Places. She also strengthened the financial health of the organization by paying off its mortgage, and she instituted innovative local history programming, such as a five-day history camp for fourth- and fifth-graders in the Pickford area. 

As a longtime member of HSM, Schmitigal has served on two HSM history conference planning committees and attended numerous others. HSM executive director and CEO, Larry Wagenaar, credits her with recruiting speakers and presentations that attracted new attendees to HSM’s three annual conferences. Schmitigal has also enjoyed traveling with the Michiganders on the Road® crew to explore history in Michigan and beyond.

She is now president of the Eastern Upper Peninsula History Consortium, a network of historical groups that meets twice a year to share best practices. “I’ve always liked history,” she said. “Some of the history here is about my family and that makes it personal.” The driving force behind her volunteer work in the history field is thinking about what can be preserved now so that future generations will understand life in our times. 

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828. 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.