History Awards

The Washington State Historical Society's annual awards recognize excellence in advancing the field of history in the state of Washington through writing, teaching, historic projects, and understanding cultural diversity. WSHS welcomes nominations for these annual awards.The awards are presented each year at the Society's annual meeting in September.  

For further information about the awards program, contact Society Awards Committee staff member Susan Rohrer, Director of Statewide Outreach, at (253) 798-5919 or email: Washington State Historical Society employees are not eligible for the awards.

To submit a nomination please download the Nomination form and return to Susan Rohrer. 

Robert Gray Medal

List of Awards:

  • Robert Gray Medal
    First given in 1968, the Robert Gray Medal is the highest award bestowed by the Washington State Historical Society. It recognizes distinguished and long-term contributions to Pacific Northwest history through demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following areas: teaching, writing, research, historic preservation, and service to local historical societies. The winner receives a framed Robert Gray Medal with certificate.
  • David Douglas Award
    First given in 1979, the David Douglas Award recognizes the significant contribution of an individual or an organization through projects, exhibits, digital presentations, or programs such as apps, websites or blogs, educational products or any other vehicle that informs or expands appreciation of any field of Washington State history during the previous year. No book nominations permitted. The winner receives a framed certificate and David Douglas pin.
  • Governor's Award for Excellence in Teaching History
    First given in 1998, the Governor’s Award is presented to an outstanding certified teacher of Pacific Northwest history in an accredited K-12 school in Washington or to a nonprofit organization. The awards committee welcomes nominations of persons who demonstrate effective teaching by any measure of excellence. This may include, but is not limited to the use and development and an innovative curriculum, consistent effectiveness in utilizing Pacific Northwest history in either the classroom or the community over an extended period of time, the advancement of Pacific Northwest history as a field of academic inquiry, a lasting impact on students, the use or development of innovative technology, and the encouragement of Pacific Northwest themes in History Day presentations. The award includes $750 and a Gold Star of recognition.
  • Peace and Friendship Awards
    First given in 1975, one of the two Peace and Friendship Awards is presented to a Native Americanand the other to a non-Native individual who has advanced public understanding of the cultural diversity of the peoples of Washington State.  Winners receive a framed President Jefferson Peace and Friendship Medal with certificate. If nominating for both awards, submit separate nomination materials. 

  • Charles Gates Memorial Award
    First given in 1965, the Charles Gates Memorial Award recognizes the most significant achievement among all articles published in Pacific Northwest Quarterly during the previous year.

  • John McClelland, Jr. Award
    First given in 1989, the John McClelland, Jr. Award is presented for the best article in a particular volume of Columbia Magazine. The winning article exhibits the readability and interest that typifies Columbia.

  • Lorraine Wojahn Award
    First presented in 1991, the Lorraine Wojahn Award is given to a person who has provided outstanding volunteer service to the Washington State Historical Society or the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

2017 Award Winners

Quintard Taylor – Robert Gray Medal. In recognition of his distinguished career as a professor of history and his far-reaching commitment to researching, preserving, and promoting the history of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Junius Rochester – David Douglas Award. In recognition of his work as president of the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, including publishing articles, and presenting a series of history tours, public programs and college courses across the Northwest.  Most significantly, Rochester led an expansion of the Pioneer Association’s operations through the acquisition of artifacts, important additions to their library, and the retrofit of Seattle’s 105-year-old Pioneer Hall.  

John Zingale – Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History. In recognition of his outstanding contribution as a teacher of Pacific Northwest History and for mentoring students as they developed and produced The Fort Vancouver Virtual Reality Project, an online tour of this national park that focuses on the archaeology and history of the Fort and features rarely seen artifacts. Zingale’s leadership with this project, and as mentor for students in the National History Day Program in Washington State, have advanced his students’ dedication to the study of history.  

Leonard Forsman and Angela Swedberg – Peace and Friendship Award. This award is bestowed annually on two recipients. Leonard Forsman is celebrated for his local, regional, and national leadership in championing the fabric of Suquamish culture heritage, including his work as director of the Suquamish Museum, his contributions as chairman of the Suquamish Tribal Council, and his appointment to the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  Angela Swedberg receives the award in recognition of her unparalleled commitment to the techniques, creation, and preservation of historic beadwork, reflecting materially a reverence for Native art and bringing historic pieces back to life.

Tyler S. Sprague Charles Gates Memorial Award, as author of “Products of Place: The Era of Reinforced-Concrete Skyscrapers in Seattle, 1921-1931,” recognized as the year’s greatest contribution to the Pacific Northwest Quarterly.

Heather Mayer – John McClelland, Jr. Award, as author of “Targeted for Deportation: Immigrant Labor Radical Becky Beck and the 1912 Seattle Tailors’ Strike,” recognized as the year’s best contribution to COLUMBIA: The Magazine of Northwest History.

Penny Drost – R. Lorraine Wojahn Award. In recognition of outstanding volunteer service advancing the work of the Washington State Historical Society.