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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.



Make a Nomination!

WSHS welcomes nominations for these annual awards.

To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form at SurveyMonkey. You can also download the nomination form and return via email to Allison Campbell. Nominations are due May 31, 2020 by 5pm.

The awards will be presented to recipients at the Society’s annual meeting and luncheon on September 19, 2020. Please check back for ticketing as we approach that date.

Need More Info?

Contact Allison Campbell, Heritage Outreach Manager, at (253) 798-5919 or email

Washington State Historical Society employees are not eligible for the awards.

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 American and 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.

2019 Award Winners

Robert Gray Medal

Tom Ikeda, Founding Executive Director of Densho, in recognition of his tireless efforts to preserve and share the history of Japanese American WWII incarceration in Washington State and beyond.

As Founding Executive Director of Densho, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to sharing personal stories of Japanese American incarceration, Ikeda has exponentially broadened public awareness of this dark chapter of our history. He has worked to capture first-person perspectives of that history through oral history interviews, photos, letters, and other materials. Tom Ikeda’s extraordinary commitment to activating Japanese American history through education, arts, storytelling, the Densho Digital Archives, and advocacy, ensures that this knowledge will be kept alive for generations to come.

David Douglas Award

The Washington State Archives and Washington State Library, housed within the Secretary of State’s office, are presented with this award for 2018.

The archivists and librarians worked relentlessly to rescue and preserve artifacts, ephemera, historical documents and more, on behalf of the Aberdeen History Museum, when the museum’s building was destroyed by fire in June, 2018. Secretary of State Kim Wyman swiftly sent the Washington State Archives team to assist in the retrieval and recovery of water soaked photos, negatives, slides, film and tapes. Like the firefighters, the archivists and librarians were working against time-if not properly cleaned and dried, mold growth would cause permanent damage. The entire State Archives team was focused solely on the recovery until every viable item was stabilized. Many of the State Library staff worked side by side with archivists. Still others volunteered to assist when they could get time away from scheduled work. Their reward was solely preserving history for generations to come. As the nominations stated, “these are unsung heroes” of Washington’s history.

Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History

Dwight Morgan of The Heritage Network in Colville, Washington, is the worthy recipient of this award.

During his long teaching career at Kettle Falls Elementary School, Dwight was completely dedicated to his students. He provided hands-on experiences for his 4th graders to help them understand the historical significance of the local falls on the Columbia River as a vital salmon fishing site for Native peoples. He taught about the legacy of the trade route centered at Kettle Falls.

Now retired from teaching, Dwight Morgan continues to educate visitors at the Kettle Falls Historical Center about the rich history of the area.

Peace and Friendship Award

There are two awards annually in this category, presented for work in advancing public understanding of the cultural diversity of the peoples of Washington State.

Phillip H. Red Eagle receives this award for his roles with Carvers Camp and Tribal Canoe Journeys. In his quiet, reserved way, Philip Red Eagle, Dakota and Puget Sound Salish, has become a cross-cultural unifying force, generating broader understanding between Native American, European American and other ethnic groups in Washington State and the North Pacific region. A graduate of the University of Washington with two degrees, and a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, Phillip is a published author, photojournalist, artist, poet, storyteller, teacher and mentor. Philip has worked diligently in the area of cultural resurgence. He worked with Native leader Tom Heidlbaugh, esteemed elder Emmett Oliver, and many others to grow the impactful and widely-known Tribal Canoe Journeys. He has been part of the Canoe Nations Program, focused on bringing back the traditional carved canoe to the Northwest and for use in the Canoe Journeys. During the past three decades, Canoe Journey has grown from fewer than ten canoes to more than 120 canoes and 10,000 paddlers. As a cultural, heritage and educational program for youth and adults, it has become a model for similar efforts throughout the Pacific Basin.

Also winning the award for their efforts on the history project Interwoven are Tessa Campbell and Fred Poyner IVInterwoven is an initiative of the National Nordic Museum focusing on oral histories of people with blended Indigenous and Scandinavian identity.

Tessa Campbell is presently the Senior Curator at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve at Tulalip Tribes. Tessa has played a critical role as a partner, panelist, and host in Interwoven. Her work on the program began with consulting about developing the initiative, identifying tribes and points of contact, and soliciting participation. As stories were being collected for the project, she worked with Fred Poyner IV and others to develop a symposium schedule. She participated as a panelist for the first symposium in 2018, and as the host for the second installment in 2019. Campbell’s contributions to Interwoven have been exceptional, defining this important oral history program.

Fred Poyner IV is Project Director for the Interwoven project. Poyner’s work on Interwoven began with the development of an outreach program to identify, establish contact, and orchestrate interviews; these recordings were then preserved for the oral history archive and uploaded to a publicly accessible database on the National Nordic Museum’s website. Poyner is currently moving the Interwoven initiative forward, working with tribes throughout Washington State to record more stories, exploring the potential of a national reach, and bringing further attention to these important and diverse cultures.

Charles Gates Memorial Award

The award goes to two recipients: Andrea Geiger for her article Haida Gwaii as North Pacific Borderland, Ikeda Mine as Alternative West: 1906-1910 (Fall 2017, Vol. 108 No. 4), and Christopher Foss for Bringing Home the (Irradiated) Bacon: The Politics of Senator Henry M. Jackson’s support for Nuclear Weapons and Energy during the Cold War (Winter 2017/18, Vol. 109, No. 1).

Andrea Geiger is an associate professor of history at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the author of the award-winning Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885-1928 (2011).

Christopher Foss is adjunct professor of history at the University of Portland and Tokyo International University of America. He has published essays in Oregon Historical Quarterly, the History Teacher, and Passport.

John McClelland, Jr. Award

Bruce A. Ramsey receives the 2018 award for his book excerpt, The Panic of 1893, published in the winter 2018-19 issue of COLUMBIA magazine.

Bruce is a Washington writer and researcher, retired after a career in journalism in Seattle and Hong Kong.

The Panic of 1893: The Untold Story of Washington State’s First Depression explores the economic, social, and cultural impacts of this long-ago financial crisis which impacted Washington very shortly after statehood.

Bruce Ramsey is now at work on his second book of Pacific Northwest history.

R. Lorraine Wojahn Award

Michael Martin is the recipient of this award for his diligent and valuable volunteer work in the marketing department as well as during programs both at the museum and in the community.

Martin volunteers weekly and posts the Society’s busy calendar of events on the many publications and organizational calendars around region; as a result of his work, people find out about the Society’s offerings and are able to participate. He has sought additional opportunities, such as tabling at outreach events and public festivals.

Martin’s professional career is teaching English to non-native speakers, and he has brought several of his classes to the History Museum to share his enthusiasm for learning about Washington.

Michael Martin plays a vital role in carrying out the museum’s mission of partnering with our communities to explore how history connects us all.