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2020 state history award winners announced

The awards are the highest recognition presented by the Historical Society of Michigan, the state’s official historical society and oldest cultural organization.
State History Award logo.
State History Award logo.(Historical Society of Michigan)
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 3:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (Press Release/WLUC) - The Historical Society of Michigan announces its 2020 State History Awards, to be presented during its annual Michigan History Conference on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, 2020, which will be a virtual event this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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.

  • The 18 winners are: (Detailed descriptions of each recipient are listed at the end of this news release.)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award—Brian L. Dunnigan of Jackson
  • Distinguished Volunteer Service—Karen Kasper of Ishpeming
  • Distinguished Professional Service—Bailey Sisoy-Moore of Highland Park
  • Books: University & Commercial Press—
    • “Great Lakes Sea Lamprey: The 70 Year War on a Biological Invader” by Cory Brant (University of Michigan Press)
    • “Points North: Discover Hidden Campgrounds, Natural Wonders, and Waterways of the Upper Peninsula” by Mikel B. Classen (Modern History Press)
  • Books: Private Printing—
    • “A Constant State of Emergency: Paul de Kruif, Microbe Hunter and Health Activist” by Jan Peter Verhave (Van Raalte Press)'“World War II Conscientious Objectors: Germfask, Michigan the Alcatraz Camp” by Jane Kopecky (Jane Kopecky)
    • “Lansing’s Young Architects: William Appleyard, R. Arthur Bailey and Frederick Thoman” by James V. MacLean (SoloVerso Press)
  • Books: Children & Youth— “Cady and the Bear Necklace” by Ann Dallman (Three Towers Press/Henschel Haus Books)
  • Communications: Printed Periodicals—"Michigan Jewish History" published by the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan
  • Education: Educational Programs—Michigan Council for History Education for its ongoing programs
  • Media—"The Detroit History Podcast"
  • Restoration/Preservation—Tony and Tom Fahoome of Dryden for their renovation and restoration of the Liberty Building in New Baltimore
  • Special Programs/Events—Flat Rock Historical Society for its “Diggin' Up Local History Cemetery Walk”
  • Local Societies—Allendale Historical Society
  • Institutions—Marine Historical Society of Detroit
  • Best Article in Michigan History Magazine—"Contaminated Michigan: The PBB Crisis" by Claire Parish
  • Best Article in Chronicle Magazine—"Hopes, Half-Measures, and Hypocrisies: Desegregating Kalamazoo Schools" by Mclevy Strong-Morse

The Michigan History Conference explores significant people, places and events in Michigan’s past through a diverse offering of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, workshops and tours. Normally, the conference moves to a different location every year to feature the local history of that area and to address notable statewide historical matters. Though this year’s conference is a virtual event, many sessions will focus on the history of Lansing. Standard registration ends on Oct. 1, 2020. Registration details and full session descriptions are available on HSM’s website at hsmichigan.org.

The lead sponsors of this year’s Michigan History Conference are The Meijer Foundation and the Library of Michigan. Major sponsors are Dart Bank, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Historical Society of Greater Lansing, Lansing Community College, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, Michigan History Center, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union and National Endowment for the Arts.

The conference is also sponsored by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, Michigan Historic Preservation Network, Michigan State University Department of History, Michigan State University Libraries, Michigan State University Press, University of Michigan Press and Wayne State University Press, along with the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau, Michigan Oral History Association and Michigan State University Department of English.

The Historical Society of Michigan also hosts the Upper Peninsula History Conference, which focuses on the history of the Upper Peninsula, and Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference, which concentrates on southeast Michigan and statewide history.

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.

More information on the winners is below.

The Historical Society of Michigan will recognize Brian L. Dunnigan of Jackson with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award. Dunnigan began his professional career in history in 1966 as a seasonal interpreter at Fort Mackinac, going on to hold leadership positions at Historic Fort Wayne and Old Fort Niagara. In 1996, Dunnigan returned to Michigan and was appointed curator of maps and head of research and publications at the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library—an institution he served at until his retirement in 2019. In addition to the many professional positions and organizational roles he has held over the years, Michigan and Great Lakes history subjects have come to life through Dunnigan’s countless books, scholarly articles, book reviews and encyclopedia entries.

The 2020 State History Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service will go to Karen Kasper of Ishpeming. Several U.P. history organizations have benefited from the work of Kasper, who grew up in Ishpeming and attended Northern Michigan University (NMU). In 2013, she began volunteering at the NMU Archives, ultimately serving as the primary administrator and coordinator of the Northland Historical Consortium of U.P. historical societies and museums. She also parlayed her skills into volunteer work with NMU’s Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center; the Ishpeming Historical Society; the Cliffs Shaft Museum; and the Project Empire initiative, which aims to place Ishpeming’s and Negaunee’s downtown districts on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Bailey Sisoy-Moore of Highland Park will receive the 2020 State History Award for Distinguished Professional Service. Sisoy-Moore is the owner and tour guide of Detroit History Tours and the Detroit History Club. Since its founding in 2015, Detroit History Tours has taken 41,000 people through the history of the Motor City by boat, bus and foot, and the 8,700 members of the Detroit History Club have enjoyed a wide range of educational activities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Sisoy-Moore adapted to the new environment, beginning a series of nighttime “History Bedtime Stories” and developing the Detroit History App, which offers downloadable, themed history tours of the city.

A State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press will be given to Cory Brant of Brighton for “Great Lakes Sea Lamprey: The 70 Year War on a Biological Invader,” published by the University of Michigan Press. Since it entered the Great Lakes in the 1830s via the Welland Canal, the sea lamprey has preyed on native fish and devastated the ecology of the region. Author Cory Brant based his research for this book on extensive oral histories that he conducted with individuals who had experienced the sea lamprey invasion firsthand. Brant then wove together the interviews, scientific information and history to create a definitive record of the ecological disaster.

A State History Award in the category of Books: University & Commercial Press will also go to Mikel B. Classen of Sault Ste. Marie for “Points North: Discover Hidden Campgrounds, Natural Wonders, and Waterways of the Upper Peninsula,” published by Modern History Press. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is rich in historic sites and scenic wonders such as Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but Classen’s book steers readers off the beaten track to discover some lesser-known—but equally delightful—gems. In addition to including a map that highlights the sites, the publication presents various U.P. locations in alphabetical order, detailing their historical background, ecological value, natural resources and recreational opportunities.

The Historical Society of Michigan will present a State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing to Jan Peter Verhave of Malden, Netherlands, for “A Constant State of Emergency: Paul de Kruif, Microbe Hunter and Health Activist,” published by Van Raalte Press. A native of Zeeland, Michigan, Paul de Kruif earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan and embarked on a career in microbiology before opting to write for the public on medical matters and science. In this full biography of de Kruif, author Jan Peter Verhave delves into the microbiologist’s unparalleled impact on American health issues, beginning with the publication of the bestselling book “Microbe Hunters” in 1926.

A State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing will go to Jane Kopecky for her self-published book, “World War II Conscientious Objectors: Germfask, Michigan the Alcatraz Camp.” During World War II, some contentious objectors refused to do any service at all—military or otherwise—and wound up at Public Service Camp 135 in Germfask, Michigan. Author-publisher Jane Kopecky of Manistique focuses on those men, whom the Selective Service and Michigan State Board of Mental Health believed to be mentally and physically deficient. As the conscientious objectors battled the legal system and government with nonviolent protests, Germfask gained fame as the Alcatraz of public service camps.

“Lansing’s Young Architects: William Appleyard, R. Arthur Bailey and Frederick Thoman” by James V. MacLean of Lansing, published by SoloVerso Press, will receive a State History Award in the category of Books: Private Printing. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, architects Appleyard, Bailey and Thoman produced outstanding designs for residential, commercial and industrial buildings, including Michigan State University facilities and the Olds Motor Works in Detroit. Using a wealth of primary resources and copious illustrations, MacLean documents the history of the buildings and their architectural forms, the lives of the men who designed them, and the ways in which the architects and the community interacted with one another.

“Cady and the Bear Necklace,” written by Ann Dallman of Menominee and published by Three Towers Press/Henschel Haus Books, will receive a State History Award in the category of Books: Children & Youth. Dallman, who taught high school English on the Hannahville Indian Reservation for 15 years but is not Native herself, wrote “Cady” to represent the Three Fire Confederation of Michigan tribes.  She often heard from her students “why doesn’t someone write a book about us?” The book describes the story of an adolescent girl who is told that she will encounter a mystery in the form of an antique beaded necklace after she preserves the honor of a sacred eagle feather. As Cady unravels the mystery, the girl is drawn closer to her elders, her Native culture and her traditional beliefs.

The Historical Society of Michigan will present the 2020 State History Award for Communications: Printed Periodicals to the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan for its annual journal, “Michigan Jewish History.” In 1960, the journal’s first issue was published with the goal of advancing the discipline of American Jewish history while striking a balance between academic scholarship and remaining accessible to a non-academic audience. On the 60th anniversary of “Michigan Jewish History” in 2020, journal staff enacted broad changes to the venerable publication, making it even more useful for scholars, students and the general public. As well as essays, personal reflections and creative-writing pieces, the publication now presents peer-reviewed scholarly works.

A State History Award in the category of Education: Educational Programs will be awarded to the Michigan Council for History Education (MCHE) for its ongoing projects. Since its founding in 1993, MCHE has sought to promote the teaching of history to students in Michigan schools. In addition to an annual conference for history teachers, MCHE operates awards programs such as the Gilder-Lehrman National History Educator Award and the Hearst Foundation United States Senate Youth Fellowship program. The council also worked with the Michigan Department of Social Studies and a coalition of educators to update the Social Studies Standards document, which was approved by the State Board of Education in 2019.

The 2020 State History Award for Media will go to “The Detroit History Podcast.” Since 2017, a team, composed of a web designer, a videographer, an audio engineer, a journalist and an audio editor—led by historian Tim Kiska of the University of Michigan–Dearborn—has produced the podcast, which marked its 30th 25-minute episode in August 2020. “The Detroit History Podcast” has examined a wide range of topics since its inception—including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 1943 Detroit Riots and 1919 Influenza Pandemic—digging deep into Detroit history to highlight unique footage and perspectives. The podcast has amassed a vast audience, earning more than 75,000 downloads across 28 countries.

Tom and Tony Fahoome of Dryden will receive the Historical Society of Michigan’s 2020 State History Award in the category of Restoration/Preservation for their work on the Liberty Building in New Baltimore. Originating in the 1860s or 1870s, the Liberty Building appeared destined for demolition by 2016. After New Baltimore’s Historic District Commission approved a proposed plan, Tom and Tony Fahoome, owners of the T.A.D. Building Company, set to work on the structure, renovating and restoring it inside and out—all the while saving original elements such as the building’s arched front door and ceiling medallion. Today, the Liberty Building has both retail and residential living space.

The Historical Society will present a State History Award in the category of Special Programs/Events to the Flat Rock Historical Society for its “Diggin' Up Local History Cemetery Walk.” Cemetery tours have become a popular way to engage the public with local history. Inspired by a session at the Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference in 2017, the Flat Rock Historical Society created its own cemetery walk. Now an annual occurrence that visits different area cemeteries each year, the event attracts an audience of all ages, brings the community together and offers lessons about past residents. The 2020 tour will have a pandemic theme in keeping with current events.

A State History Award in the category of Local Societies will be awarded to the Allendale Historical Society. Formed in 1983 with the goal of developing an awareness and appreciation of the Allendale area, the society initially produced a quarterly newsletter and organized programs presented by local historians, professors and other regional scholars. Over the years—and with help from historical artifact and archival donations from local residents—the Allendale Historical Society has expanded in size and scope, opening the Knowlton House Museum in 1995 and developing a community history book. The organization continues to produce programs and events that celebrate local history, such as cemetery and museum tours.

The Marine Historical Society of Detroit will receive a State History Award in the Institutions category. In 1944, history enthusiasts founded the organization to promote Great Lakes maritime history. More than 75 years later, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit has produced a wealth of scholarship, preserving and interpreting Michigan’s rich Great Lakes shipping history. In addition to its 73-years-running newsletter, “The Detroit Marine Historian,” the organization has published many other important works that highlight maritime subjects. Although the society has no building of its own, it facilitates the acquisition of archival materials for the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green State University.

The 2020 State History Award for the Best Article in Michigan History Magazine will go to Claire Parish of Ada for her article, “Contaminated Michigan: The PBB Crisis,” which appeared in Michigan History’s September/October 2019 issue. In 1973, the Michigan Chemical Corporation erroneously swapped the fire-retardant chemical PBB with a dairy cattle feed supplement. After unknowing farmers fed it to their livestock, countless farm animals sickened and died, and 9 million Michiganders were poisoned by PBB-laced meat and dairy products. Parish’s article was based off her 2019 entry in the Michigan History Day® competition, for which she was a winner in the Senior Division Individual Paper category and a national finalist.

The 2020 State History Award for the Best Article in Chronicle, the Historical Society of Michigan’s membership magazine, will be presented to Mclevy Strong-Morse of Kalamazoo for his article, “Hopes, Half-Measures, and Hypocrisies: Desegregating Kalamazoo Schools.” Appearing in Chronicle’s Fall 2019 issue, the article explored the landmark 1971 court ruling of Oliver v. Kalamazoo Board of Education that desegregated Kalamazoo schools. Within two decades, however, racial segregation returned to Kalamazoo schools as European-American families moved out of the city. Strong-Morse’s article was adapted from a paper he wrote for the 2019 Michigan History Day® competition when he was 13 years old. He was a state and national finalist and winner of the Best Entry in African-American History.

Historical Society of Michigan Press Release. Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.

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