For nearly eighty years, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has presented Leadership in History Awards to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people.

Today, AASLH announces the winners of the History in Progress awards. The History in Progress (HIP) Award is a special additional award for an Award of Excellence winner whose nomination is highly inspirational, exhibits exceptional scholarship, and/or is exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships, or collaborations, creative problem solving, or unusual project design and inclusiveness. This is an award made at the discretion of the Awards Committee.

The 2024 Albert B. Corey Award winner, the Mt. Tabor Preservation Project, was previously announced here. The rest of the Awards of Excellence winners will be announced later this week.

History in Progress Awards
The History in Progress Award is a special recognition for winners that are particularly inspiring and creative, and is only given to 5 percent or fewer of the total awardees per year. This year, two engaging projects geared for young learners rose to the top.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, Indiana), the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute (Summit, Illinois), and the Emmett Till Interpretive Center (Sumner, Mississippi) for Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See

Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till’s brutal murder in 1955 Mississippi and the subsequent lack of justice for his murderers became a powerful spark in the civil rights movement. The historic marker placed at the river site where his body was recovered has been repeatedly vandalized and replaced, and the image of the bullet-ridden sign became a powerful metaphor for the continuing relevance of Emmett’s story. These organizations decided to take action by creating a touring exhibit and programming that interpret Emmett’s life, his mother’s bravery in telling his story, the community’s drive to keep his memory alive, and how nearly seventy years later, visitors can commit to social justice in their own communities. By developing this project at a children’s museum, the collaborators created an opportunity for intergenerational discussions of difficult history and social justice that will have tremendous impact as the exhibit travels across the nation.

Landmark Builds (Joplin, Missouri) for Iconic Joplin: Celebrating Joplin’s 150th birthday by recreating local landmarks with LEGO

In 2023, Joplin, Missouri, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1873. Iconic Joplin was designed to engage teenagers in celebrating the city’s historic milestone through a LEGO building competition. Through research, community engagement, and STEM education, this project brought together thirty teens to choose local landmarks and recreate them in LEGOs in building sessions at local cultural institutions. Participants completed primary source research, site tours, and expert interviews to learn more about their chosen landmarks and how to construct their models, and the finished products were exhibited at the local arts center. Awards were given for best architectural build, best integration of history, most innovative use of LEGOs, and most popular with the public at the 2023 Preserve Missouri state preservation conference. Iconic Joplin inspired young learners to see their town with new eyes, research and appreciate its history, and develop new STEM skills in cooperation with their peers.