Frequently Asked Questions

Please explore the entire awards site and contact your state and regional representatives to understand how to submit a quality nomination and how the review process works, but here are a few basic questions to get you started.

General questions:

Who is eligible to apply for an award?
Members and non-members, big and small organizations, lots of staff or all volunteers, big, small, or no budget, museums, historic sites, libraries, and others, almost anyone is eligible to apply for a Leadership in History Award. Read the category requirements for more details on eligibility, but if you have completed a project or published a book within eighteen months prior to March 1, you are probably eligible. There are no staff size, budget, or location requirements. We encourage you to nominate your own organization for an award, but prefer that Individual Achievement nominations come from someone other than the nominee.

What are our chances of winning an award? My organization is small and we have no budget!
Our awards program is non-competitive, meaning your nomination is not in competition with others for a finite amount of awards. If we receive 100 great nominations, we will recognize 100 award winners. Your nomination is evaluated alone on its own merits, and is not compared to other organizations. We encourage nominations from small and all-volunteer organizations.

What are judges looking for in an award nomination?
Our awards committee looks for several things in a successful nomination. Does it satisfy all the requirements (no missing elements, fits within the timeline, etc.) for its category, does it make a contribution to the field of state and local history, and most important, is it “good history”?  Good history embraces difficult history, acts to build diversity and inclusiveness, cultivates an experimental and creative spirit, demonstrates the relevance of history, and strives to be accessible to a wide audience.  Read the Awards Committee Statement on Good History for more information and examples.

What should we do first?
Contact your state or regional representative. They will advise you on eligibility, category requirements, what materials to gather, and how to submit a great nomination.

What do we need to submit for a nomination?
Each category for the Award of Merit (exhibits, public programming, publications, etc.) has slightly different requirements, but generally speaking, you will need to gather these kinds of items:

  • Budget information for the project and your institution
  • Letters of critical review (from people not associated with your project who can provide feedback on why the work is exceptional)
  • Resumes of key people involved in the project
  • Photos of your exhibit or project
  • Evaluation data for the project (surveys, letters, feedback, etc.)
  • Text from exhibit panels and labels
  • Marketing materials or handouts used in the project
  • News coverage of your project


More specific questions:

Who should we ask for a letter of critical review?
All nominations require two letters of critical review. These are letters from people not involved with your project in any way, who are qualified to judge the merits of the work. One letter should discuss the scholarship of the project, and should come from someone who has expertise in that subject (a professor, someone from another museum or organization, someone who writes about the topic, etc.).  The other critical review should address the outcome and effect of the project on the organization or the community or constituency served. Examples of these kinds of reviewers may be teachers whose students toured the exhibit or representatives of a community that was served by the project. Reviews published in scholarly journals may be substituted for one letter of critical review. Local news coverage, press releases, etc., do not qualify as critical testimony. We discourage letters from local politicians, visitors’ bureaus, and others who may review the project for tourism potential rather than historical merit. If you’re having trouble finding a reviewer, ask your state awards representative for help. Read sample critical letters of review for every category.

What kinds of publications are eligible for awards?
 The publication category includes books, journals, and other scholarly works focusing on state and local history. It does not include annual reports, brochures, newsletters, and other marketing materials. All publications must have full back matter (references and index). Publications should have a bibliography/works cited page and/or footnotes/endnotes. See our Additional Instructions for Publications for more information.

What about awards for long-running projects or programs?
If your project has been going on for awhile but is reaching an important milestone, it may be eligible for an award. Contact AASLH or your state or regional representatives.