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Oklahoma Historical Society Awards and Honors

Eligibility
The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) encourages organizations and individuals to nominate others or self-apply. You do not have to be a member of the OHS to nominate nor to receive an award. Current members of the OHS Board of Directors and current employees of the OHS, its museums, sites, and affiliates are not eligible. Awards are not necessarily given every year.

Submissions and Evaluations
The 2022 nomination period opens on October 3 and closes November 15, 2022. Nominations received within the nomination period are provided to the selection committees. Nominations are evaluated on merit, not endorsement.

  • Download and complete the nomination form specific to the award
  • Larry.ODell@history.ok.gov or mail form to:
    Larry O’Dell
    Oklahoma Historical Society
    800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105
  • Nominees are evaluated on merit, not endorsement

Awards and Honors Available for Nomination

Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame
Instituted in 1993, the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This honor recognizes distinguished and long-term contributions to Oklahoma history through demonstrated excellence. It is bestowed on individuals based on their contributions to the preservation, collection, interpretation, and dissemination of Oklahoma history. Past inductees include John Hope Franklin, Angie Debo, Currie Ballard, and Henrietta Mann. Inductees receive the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame medal, and their biography is published in The Chronicles of Oklahoma. Nominations for the Hall of Fame may be submitted throughout the year, and inductees are selected in the fall/winter.
View a list of Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame members.
Download nomination form (PDF)

Bruce T. Fisher Award
Outstanding Oklahoma History Project
The Bruce T. Fisher Award recognizes the significant contribution of an individual or organization for projects including but not limited to digital, short-form publications, collections care, film, programs, and exhibits. The project must contribute to broader public knowledge or expand appreciation in any field of Oklahoma history. The work must have been completed in the previous year (October 1 to September 30) with a project budget of $20,000 or below. The awardee receives a commemorative plaque. Nominations for this award will reopen in fall of 2022.
Download nomination form (PDF)

Bruce T. Fisher, the son of Civil Rights Movement pioneer Ada Louise Sipuel Fisher, served as acting Oklahoma Secretary of State in 1980 after Hannah Atkins was appointed to the United Nations. In 1999 Fisher joined the Oklahoma Historical Society. He spearheaded the organization’s effort to collect, preserve, and share the state’s African American history, creating the Realizing a Dream exhibit in the Oklahoma History Center. Fisher and his colleagues won a Telly award for the documentary 2nd Street: The Heart of Oklahoma City. He helped resurrect the Oklahoma Historical Society Black Heritage Committee and continued developing special programming, even after his 2014 retirement, returning to work part-time at OHS for several years. In 2021 OHS inducted Bruce Fisher into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.

Linda Williams Reese Award
Outstanding Dissertation or Thesis on Oklahoma History
The Linda Williams Reese Award recognizes outstanding dissertations or theses on Oklahoma history completed during the previous year. The awardee receives $500 and a plaque of recognition. Nominations for this award will reopen in fall of 2022.
Download nomination form (PDF)

Dr. Linda Williams Reese joined the faculty at East Central University in 1994, where she served as chair of the history department, director of the Oklahoma Studies Program, and the director of the Teaching American History Grant. The college recognized her teaching ability, presenting her with the Exemplary Faculty Award, Teaching Excellence Award, and Outstanding History Professor Award. Reese wrote Women of Oklahoma, 1890–1920, and Trail Sisters: Freedwomen in Indian Territory, 1850–1890. She co-edited Main Street Oklahoma: Stories of Twentieth-Century America. She has written several articles, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews. In 2014 OHS inducted Dr. Reese into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.

Joseph B. Thoburn Award
Outstanding Student Historian
To encourage the study of Oklahoma history among young people, the OHS offers the Joseph B. Thoburn Award each year to the junior or senior high school student who exhibits outstanding achievements in the presentation or interpretation of state and local history. This may include but is not limited to involvement in local historical projects, and achievements in essay contests, scholastic tests, and Oklahoma National History Day competitions. The awardee receives $500 and a plaque of recognition. Nominations for this award will reopen in fall of 2022.
Download nomination form (PDF)

Joseph B. Thoburn served as an early civic leader in Oklahoma City. He helped organize the city’s Chamber of Commerce and establish Epworth University, which became Oklahoma City University. In 1903 he was elected to the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors. In 1908 Thoburn published the first textbook adopted by the state on Oklahoma history, The History of Oklahoma. While a member of the University of Oklahoma’s history department, he excavated several of the state’s prehistoric American Indian archaeological sites. Thoburn joined the OHS staff in 1917. He wrote eight books and many articles on Oklahoma history. He assisted in establishing The Chronicles of Oklahoma and served as an early editor of the publication. He retired in 1931 and died in 1941. In 1993 OHS inducted Thoburn into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.

William D. Pennington Award
Outstanding Social Studies Teacher
The William D. Pennington Award is presented to an outstanding social studies teacher. We welcome nominations of persons who demonstrate effective teaching by any measure of excellence. This may include but is not limited to the use or development of innovative social studies curriculum or technology, a lasting impact on students, and remarkable support for Oklahoma National History Day projects. Nominees will be asked to supply a sample lesson plan with current Oklahoma state standards and expectations. The awardee receives $500 and a plaque of recognition. Nominations for this award will reopen in fall of 2022.
Download nomination form (PDF)

Dr. William D. Pennington had a long academic career serving Tulsa Community College’s many campuses and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. From 2004 to 2007, he was the president of Murray State College. In 2001 Pennington won the McCasland Award for excellence in teaching Oklahoma history. He authored numerous articles on the state’s history. In 2001 Pennington became an Oklahoma Historical Society Board member, serving until 2007, when he unexpectedly passed away.

Additional Awards

Guardian of History Award
The Guardian of History Award recognizes elected officials who provide outstanding support of our mission to collect, preserve, and share Oklahoma’s unique and fascinating history. Recipients of the award recognize the critical role the OHS plays as a state agency and are vocal proponents of its continued success. Recipients receive a plaque of recognition.

E. E. Dale Award
Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History

This award honors an outstanding book exploring a topic in Oklahoma history.

Dr. E. E. Dale, a Harvard graduate, joined the history faculty at the University of Oklahoma in 1924. He wrote a number of history books, including The Range Cattle Industry, Cow Country, History of Oklahoma, and The Indians of the Southwest: A Century of Development Under the United States. From 1930 to 1972, Dr. Dale served on the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors. He retired from the University in 1952 but continued to research and write Oklahoma history, as well as authoring poetry and two autobiographical books. In 1994 OHS inducted E. E. Dale into the Historians Hall of Fame posthumously. He died in 1972.

Muriel H. Wright Award
Outstanding Article Published in The Chronicles of Oklahoma

First awarded in 1974, the Muriel H. Wright Award honors the author of the outstanding article published in the preceding volume of the OHS’s scholarly journal, The Chronicles of Oklahoma. All articles published in The Chronicles are considered for the award, and the recipient receives $500 and a plaque of recognition.

Muriel H. Wright, the daughter of Choctaw Principal Chief Allen Wright, began performing editorial duties on The Chronicles of Oklahoma in 1943. In 1955 the Oklahoma Historical Society officially named her the journal’s editor. Wright authored six books on Oklahoma history, including A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma and Mark of Heritage. In the 1950s, she was instrumental in creating the Oklahoma Historical Society Historical Marker Program. In 1973 Muriel Wright retired from the OHS, and in 1975 suffered passed away. In 1993 the Oklahoma Historical Society inducted her into the inaugural class of the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.