NCPH Founders Award

In 2015, the NCPH Council of Past Presidents  developed the Founders Award to recognize those individuals who were present at the creation of NCPH and who played critical roles in the organization’s success. This award will be presented each year over the next few years.

Suellen M. Hoy

Suellen M. Hoy is one of the “founding mothers” of public history. She came to the field of history after seven years as a member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Midwest born and raised, she received her PhD from Indiana University in 1975. During her time at IU she served as the first woman editorial assistant at the Journal of American History. After a year as a university instructor in upstate New York, Hoy seized the opportunity to work in the yet unnamed field of public history. As part of the bicentennial of the United States, the American Association of Public Works hired her to co-author, with Michael C. Robinson, a History of Public Works in the United States, 1776-1976. Hoy and Robinson went on to create the Public Works Historical Society with the backing of the American Association of Public Works. As director of the society, Hoy played an important role in the spread of public history, speaking to the first public history students at the University of California, Santa Barbara as well as helping to arrange internships with public works agencies. While based in Washington, DC, she joined Arnita Jones at the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History and chaired its Resource Group on State and Local History.

Suellen Hoy was also a key participant in the Montecito, CA public history forum in 1980. As a key participant, she went on to become one of the founding board members of the National Council on Public History. She later co-chaired the 1982 meeting in Chicago. From 1981 to 1986 she served as Assistant Director of the North Carolina Division of History and Archives where she led the Institute for Applied History. Hoy has remained a pioneer historian as the author of several influential works: Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness (1996) and Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago’s Past (2006). In 2015 she was awarded the Pratt Prize for the best article published in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. She remains an active researcher dedicated to exploring working women’s lives in early 20th century Chicago.

Joel A. Tarr

Joel A. Tarr earned his PhD from Northwestern University in 1963. He held appointments at California State University, Long Beach (1961-1965) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (1966-1967). In 1967, Tarr accepted employment at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, where he remains, holding the title of Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy. Tarr is jointly appointed in the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Joel Tarr was a founder and a leader of the modern public history movement. In 1976, Tarr and his colleague, Peter Stearns, launched a graduate degree in Applied History and Social Science at Carnegie Mellon, which (along with the University of California, Santa Barbara, also established in 1976) was one of the trail blazing programs in the United States. In April 1979, Tarr participated in the First National Symposium on public history at Montecito, California. He and the 65 or so others who met at Montecito created a steering committee that convened at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on September 14, 1979. In doing so, they voted to approve creation of the National Council on Public History (NCPH). At the steering committee meeting, Tarr contributed to the forward momentum of the public history movement by agreeing that Carnegie Mellon would host the Second National Conference on Public History, April 18-20, 1980. Tarr and Peter Steans served as co-chairs of the Pittsburgh conference organized around the theme of “History and Public Policy.” The Pittsburgh conference set the template for NCPH meetings that is still used today. Tarr also served on the NCPH Board of Directors in 1981-1982.

Tarr combined scholarship and teaching with hands-on experience as a publicly engaged historian, having served on a number of Pittsburgh regional boards and committees, including COMPAC 21: The Committee to Prepare Allegheny County for the 21st Century, 1994-1996; Action Housing; and several committees studying Pittsburgh water and wastewater problems.


Submission Guidelines

The NCPH Founders Award was established in 2015 to recognize those individuals who were present at the creation of NCPH and who played critical roles in the organization’s success. The NCPH Council of Past Presidents administers the award and selects the winner. Award winners receive complimentary meeting registration and a ticket for the awards breakfast.*


Phone: 317-274-2716
Fax: 317-2785230
Email: [email protected]


Past Founders Award Winners


  • Jack M. Holl
  • Darlene R. Roth


  • Arnita A. Jones
  • Philip L. Cantelon


  • G. Wesley Johnson
  • Robert W. Pomeroy, III