Society for History
in the Federal Government

John Wesley Powell Prize
Historic Preservation and Historical Display Projects

The Historic Preservation and Historical Display Award annually honors distinction by individual or principal collaborators for a single historic display, exhibit, or preservation project completed in the last two years. The award will rotate annually between awarding projects of historical display and those of historic preservation. The award is given for any non-digital form of interpretive historical presentation including, but not limited to, museum exhibits, and historical films; or to any project involving the preservation of records, artifacts, buildings, historical sites, and other historical entities.

The Powell Prize commemorates the explorer and federal administrator whose work demonstrated early recognition of the importance of historic preservation and historical display.

2018 Submission Guidelines


The prize will be conferred on a project created by any agency or unit of the federal government. Nongovernmental organizations, including federal contractors, who performed eligible activities on behalf of a unit of the federal government will also be considered. Projects may be renominated, as long as the renomination includes a description of any updates since the original nomination. Preference will be given to entries submitted by members of the Society for the History of the Federal Government.

Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Exhibits-in museums, cultural centers, and other public venues;
  • Public Interpretive Programs-lecture series, walking tours, oral history projects, outreach activities, educational offerings, workshops, etc.;
  • Major Initiatives-anniversary projects, agency initiatives, commemorative projects;
  • Preservation Activities-restoration projects dedicated to preserving historic properties, major reports or programs that contribute to larger historic preservation efforts. 

Award Criteria

Nominations and supporting materials should specifically address four equally weighted criteria:

1. Exemplary practices that serve as models for future federal activity.

2. Significant value in furthering history in and of the federal government.

3. (If applicable) A high level of technical expertise in the field of historic preservation including rehabilitation, restoration, reconstruction, and preservation projects that are in line with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.

4. The quality of historical research and interpretation resulting from the use of archival material, material culture, oral history, or any other appropriate form of documentary evidence.

Submission Process

The award is made solely on the basis of the materials submitted to the Historic Display and Historic Preservation Award Committee.

1.  Nominations should be submitted through Google Forms. 

2. Nominations should be submitted in the form of a written narrative not to exceed 1,000 words and clearly address how the project addresses the four criteria.

3. Supporting visual materials of key aspects of the activity or project, appropriately labeled. These materials may include: photographs (digital or hard copies), plans, elevations, brochures, or newsclips (all submitted material becomes the property of SHFG). Supplemental materials should be mailed to each of the panel members at the addresses below.

Committee Members:

Alexandra Wenzl

Historian, Region 6 Program Manager

Forest Service

Virginia Parks

Cultural Resources Team, Region 1

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Caridad de la Vega, Historian

National Historic Landmarks Program

National Park Service 


Society for History in the Federal Government
PO BOX 14139
Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044

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