BLOOMINGTON, IN—During its annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) presented Manzanar National Historic Site barracks exhibit with their prestigious 2016 Stanton-Horton Award for Excellence in National Park Service History, which is given annually to recognize excellence in historical projects for, by, and with the National Park Service and is intended to honor projects, parks, or programs that make the NPS a leader in promoting public understanding of and engagement with American history.
The Manzanar National Historic Site barracks exhibit exemplifies the principles of scholarly excellence and civic engagement that the Stanton-Horton Award was established to honor.
The exhibit, installed in April 2015 within two 20′ x 100′ barracks reconstructed on the site where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, was many years in the making, and involved the participation of practically the entire staff of Manzanar National Historic Site; additional NPS personnel from the Denver Service Center and the Pacific West Regional Office; and three outside contracting firms based in southern California, Virginia, and Maryland.
More important, the exhibit incorporates original archival and oral history research with the families of individuals who experienced life in the barracks seven decades ago, and in many cases, with the individuals themselves. These families not only contributed valuable historical materials but also helped shape the way those materials would be interpreted to the public throughout the planning process.
The high level of community engagement has only grown since the exhibits were installed, as the park has reached out to youths from inner city Los Angeles and the Owens Valley. The award committee especially commends the exhibit’s nuanced exploration of how internees grappled with the Loyalty Questionnaire that they were compelled to answer, in the process raising the larger question of what loyalty means in a multicultural democracy and who has the right to define it and question others about it.
The award was presented on April 9 by OAH’s 20151–16 President Jon Butler and 20161–17 President Nancy F. Cott.
For more information, visit oah.org.
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ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN HISTORIANS
Founded in 1907, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to American history scholarship. With more than 7,500 members from the U.S. and abroad, OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, encouraging wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of history practitioners.
It publishes the quarterly Journal of American History, the leading scholarly publication and journal of record in the field of American history for more than nine decades. It also publishes The American Historian magazine. Formerly known as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (MVHA), the association became the OAH in 1965 to reflect a broader scope focusing on national studies of American history. The OAH national headquarters are located in the historic Raintree House on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.