AASLH Award Recipient

AASLH Award Recipient



Jeff Morgan, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, 515-281-3858

Bethany Hawkins, American Association for State and Local History, hawkins@aaslh.org, 615-320-3203


Cutlines for attached photos:

DSC 0933 AASLH: The State Historical Museum of Iowa’s “Riding Through History” exhibition received an American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit last week in Louisville, Kentucky. The award is AASLH’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

State Historical Museum receives highest national honors for preservation and interpretation of Iowa history

DES MOINES – The State Historical Museum of Iowa has received two Leadership in History Awards from the American Association for State and Local History, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The AASLH honored the museum’s “Riding Through History” exhibition and a Community Based Learning Program with Awards of Merit during its 70th Annual Leadership in History Awards banquet and 2015 Annual Meeting on Friday, September 18, in Louisville, Kentucky.

“The State Historical Museum engages Iowans with exhibits and programs that connect them to the stories of our state,” State Historical Museum of Iowa Director Susan Kloewer said. “We are proud and pleased the American Association for State and Local History has recognized our “Riding Through History” exhibition and the Community Based Learning Program as two of the best in the country. The museum staff is committed to providing Iowans with rich history experiences and are most deserving of this national recognition.”

“The Leadership in History Awards is AASLH’s highest distinction and the winners represent the best in the field,” said Trina Nelson Thomas, AASLH Awards Chair and Director, Stark Art & History Venue, Stark Foundation. “This year, we are pleased to distinguish each recipient’s commitment and innovation to the interpretation of history, as well as their leadership for the future of state and local history.”

In making the award presentations, AASLH noted:


  • “Riding Through History” focuses on the history of recreational bicycling in the state, with particular emphasis on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – more commonly known as RAGBRAI. This exhibit continues to push the interpretation of bicycle history in museums and academia from a purely technological story to one that considers the social and cultural significance of this peculiar two-wheeled human-powered machine.
  • The Community Based Learning Program, developed by the State Historical Museum with Des Moines teachers Josalynn Agnew of Monroe Elementary School and Michele Mead of Scavo Alternative High School, builds relationships with at-risk student population while engaging them in the study of state history and culture. High school and elementary classes meet at the museum to learn about history, civics, economics and literacy in a non-traditional, hands-on environment.


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. Each nomination is peer-reviewed by AASLH’s state captains. Final awards are decided by the Awards Committee, comprised of AASLH’s 14 regional representatives and the National Awards Chair.


The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa-State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.www.culturalaffairs.org.


About the American Association for State and Local History: Since 1940, AASLH has provided leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history to make the past more meaningful. AASLH is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH works to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of local history in America. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and maintains numerous affinity groups and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting. For more information, visit www.aaslh.org.