AASLH 2017 Award of Distinction, Leadership in History Award Winners

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) presented historian, author, curator, and educator Lonnie G. Bunch, III, with the AASLH Award of Distinction on September 8 at the association’s annual meeting in Austin, TX.

Bunch is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  In this position, he promotes the museum’s mission to tell the American story through the African American lens, and provides strategic leadership in areas of fundraising, collections, and academic and cultural partnerships.  Prior to his July 2005 appointment as director of NMAAHC, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the nation’s oldest museums of history; curator of history for the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles; and several positions at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2017, Bunch was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Award of Distinction is given infrequently in recognition of long and very distinguished individual service. Recipients are noted for their contributions to the field of state and local history including their service and volunteerism to the field and are recognized nationally as leaders in the profession. The Leadership in History Awards Program was initiated in 1945 to build standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout America.

“The Award of Distinction is AASLH’s highest honor, given to special colleagues whose commitment, leadership, contributions and perseverance show the way for the rest of us,” said Katherine Kane, Chair of AASLH’s Council and Executive Director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. “I am delighted that Lonnie is being recognized with this award.”

At its annual meeting, AASLH leaders also presented the 72nd annual Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. This year, AASLH conferred forty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications, including the following honors in the Mid-Atlantic region:

New York

Averill Earls, Sarah Handley-Cousins, Marissa Rhodes, Elizabeth Garner Masarik, Katie Smyser, Tommy Buttaccio, and Dan Wallace, for The History Buffs podcast

 The Historic Tavern Trail Series presented by Johanna Yaun, Orange County Historian, for the 2016 Historic Tavern Trail Series



The State Museum of Pennsylvania, for the exhibit The Pennsylvania Turnpike: America’s First Superhighway

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, for the exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, Inc., for the publication Shade Furnace: An Early 19th Century Ironmaking Community in Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Jefferson County Historical Society, for the Scripture Rocks Heritage Park