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. See the list of awards and current winners below.

The awards are presented at the Society's annual meeting each year. Washington State Historical Society employees are not eligible for the awards. For further information about the awards program, contact Society Awards Committee staff member Susan Rohrer, Director of Statewide Outreach at the Historic Lord Mansion, 211 - 21st Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98501. Phone: (360) 360-586-0166 or e-mail:

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.

  • Jean Richards Award
    First given in 1994, the Jean Richards Award recognizes commitment to the State Capital Museum and Outreach Center through volunteer service in Olympia.

Current Award Winners

Barry Gough – Robert Gray Medal. Dr. Gough’s distinguished career includes professorships at Western Washington University where he founded with colleagues the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies which led to the establishment of the Northwest Archives Center in Bellingham, and Wilfrid Laurier University in his native Canada where is retired from and is now an Emeritus Professor of History,. A renowned expert in the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest, his numerous award winning publications and his research have brought him recognition from the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and the United States. Especially noted works include the 2007 publication Fortune’s a River, about the Columbia River, and 2012 publication Juan de Fuca’s Strait, about the legend and realities of sailing that waterway. Fittingly he founded with colleagues the Center of Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University. Now retired, he maintains a rigorous publishing schedule and is known as an excellent speaker and a champion of the study of local history.

Northwest News Network and Anna King – David Douglas Award for Daughters of Hanford, a series highlighting the underrepresented women’s perspectives of the nuclear site in twelve radio pieces, complementary portraits and a special exhibit at The Reach Museum in Richland, Washington.

Michelle Hall – Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History. Despite working at a middle school that cannot accommodate the History Day program as part of the school’s curriculum, Michelle’s leadership of the program outside of school hours has shown an exceptional degree of commitment. Working with many ESL students in a rural setting, Michelle has taught them to utilize available technology to conduct online, primary source research in support of their history day projects. As one of her student’s states, “Ms Hall has always been a NHD advocate, guiding me through my path at local, regional and state NHD [contests] for many years….she realizes an educational opportunity and seizes it. She sits by students during judging at competitions and helps them recognize strengths and weakness in historical theses …she boosted our self-confidence and pushed us to make us better consumers of history. She always made me feel smart, like I could find a new nugget in history no one else had found before and she was sure to express her pride for me and peers.”

Ed Carriere, Squamish Elder – Peace and Friendship Award. Mr. Carriere is a Master Basketmaker who has woven baskets for over 50 years, learning the art from his great-grandmother. Ed makes a wide variety of woven and carved pieces and has taught basket weaving to many generations of tribal members. He recently has worked in partnership with archaeologist Dr. Dale Croes and the Burke Museum studying 2000 year old baskets and replicating the ancient weaving techniques, using the same natural materials and sharing his knowledge with weavers and archaeologists from Japan to England and the people of the Northwest.

Dale Croes, Archaeologist – Peace and Friendship Award. Dr. Dale Croes is a noted Northwest Archaeologist whose has conducted award winning research in Northwest Coast wet archaeological sites. He is the Director of the Pacific Northwest Archaeological Society and has been working with Ed Carriere to analyze and replicate the 2000 year old basketry found by a riverside in traditional Snoqualmie Territory in the early 1960s and housed at the Burke Museum of Natural History.

William H. Mullins – Charles Gates Memorial Award for his article, The Persistence of Progressivism: James Ellis and the Forward Thrust Campaign, 1968-1970 (Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Spring 2014, Volume 105 Number 2, Page 55-72). Mr. Mullins is history professor emeritus at Oklahoma Baptist University. He is the author of the 2013 University of Washington Press book Becoming Big League: Seattle, The Pilots, and Stadium Politics. This is the second time he has been awarded the Charles Gates Memorial Award, the first time in 1981 for Self-Help in Seattle, 1931-1932: Herbert Hoover's Concept of Cooperative Individualism and the Unemployed Citizens' League.

David Delbert Kruger – John McClelland, Jr. Award for his article, The Main Street Spirit of JCPenney: A Department Store Chain in the Downtowns of Washington (Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History, Summer 2015, Page 8-15). Mr. Kruger is the agriculture research librarian at the University of Wyoming. He has published a number of articles about James Cash Penney and the cultural impact of his department store chain.

Susan Long – Lorraine Wojahn Award. Ms. Long is valued volunteer who has volunteered at the Washington State History Museum as a knowledgeable and engaging gallery interpreter, working with visitors of all ages to enhance their museum experience. In three years she has logged over 500 hours of volunteer service, assisting at special events year round and has recently begun volunteering at the WSHS Research Center cataloguing artifacts.

Bill Brookreson and the South Sound Native Plant Society – Jean Richards Award. As a member and leader of the South Sound Native Plant Society, part of the Washington Native Plant Society, Bill Brookreson has devoted hours of leadership and care to the Delbert McBride Ethnobotannical Garden on the grounds of the historic Lord Mansion. In additional to providing monthly work parties for the care of the garden with nearly 300 hours of volunteer time, Bill has led over six public tours of the garden in four years and in 2014 planned and led a three garden progressive tour in Tacoma in conjunction with a special exhibit on the noted naturalist David Douglas.