Washington State Historical Society wins award of merit for crowd-sourced exhibit “Civil War Pathways in the Pacific Northwest”

June 10, 2015

TACOMA...Ground-breaking efforts in the research of Washington’s Civil War connections have won the Washington State Historical Society the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) will present the Award of Merit to the Historical Society as part of the 70th annual Leadership in History Awards. This award is given for excellence in history programs, projects, and people when compared with similar activities nationwide.

“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, Start Art & History Venue, Stark Foundation.

In 2013, Lorraine McConaghy, noted Civil War historian, led an effort by the Washington State Historical Society to recruit and cultivate over 200 volunteers statewide as history researchers. After an initial training, each volunteer was assigned various media to scour for references to the Civil War era.

Though Washington was far from the battlefield, the issues and fall-out from the war resonated locally and were reflected in correspondence, newspapers, journals, legal documents, and other sources, the sheer volume of which made professional researching daunting. History buffs statewide, however, found thousands of references to the war over a period of months, giving rise to the 2014 exhibit at the Washington State History Museum titled “Civil War Pathways in the Pacific Northwest.”

“The Civil War Pathways project showed how Washingtonians can actively preserve their history and deepen our understanding of our past,” explained Jennifer Kilmer, Director of the Washington State Historical Society. “We are very honored by this distinction.”

Another Washington historical organization, the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum on Vashon Island, was awarded The Albert B. Corey Award by AASLH. This award is named in honor of a founder and former president of AASLH, and recognizes primarily volunteer-operated historical organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination in their work. Only one of these awards is given nationwide each year.

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 inpiduals 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

Washington State History Museum
Founded in 1891, just two years after Washington became a state, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) is now into its second century of service dedicated to the collecting, preserving, and vividly presenting Washington’s rich and varied history. The Historical Society is comprised of a family of museums and a research center, offering a variety of services to researchers, historians, scholars, children, and lifelong learners. By connecting personal, local, regional, and national stories to the universality of the human experience, and collecting materials from our state that help tell those stories, the Washington State Historical Society is indispensable to the people of Washington.

WSHS served over 90,000 people last year with exhibits that gained national attention and valuable school field trips.
1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma
Hours: 10am – 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday (Thursdays from March through June, 10am – 8pm)
3rd Thursday of Every Month: Free admission from 2pm – 8pm


Kimberly Ketcham, Marketing & Communications Director for the Washington State Historical Society