G. Wesley Johnson Award

A $750 award for the best article in The Public Historian for the 2023 calendar year.

2024 Winner

“‘People First’: Interpreting and Commemorating Houselessness and Poverty,” The Public Historian Vol 45, No 1, Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan, Rutgers University – New Brunswick

2024 Submission Guidelines

NCPH presents the G. Wesley Johnson Award for the best article in The Public Historian for the calendar year. The annual G. Wesley Johnson Award consists of a $750 cash award and a certificate presented to the author(s) of the selected article at the awards breakfast during the NCPH Annual Meeting (to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2024). Nominations are made by members of the Johnson Award selection committee. Award winners receive complimentary registration for the awards breakfast.

The National Council on Public History established its annual article prize in 1986 to honor outstanding contributions to the literature of public history. The prize is named for G. Wesley Johnson, founding editor of The Public Historian, and is funded by a generous annual donation from HMS Associates, Inc.*

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Case, Managing Editor
The Public Historian
Department of History
University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: 805-893-3667
Fax: 805-893-7522
Email: [email protected]

A challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities makes possible our expanding awards program and other uses of earned income on the NCPH endowment. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Past Award Winners

  • “Public History in the Age of Insurrection: Confronting White Rage in Red States,” The Public Historian Vol 44, No 3, Brian Murphy, Pope’s Tavern Museum and the Florence Indian Mound Museum, and Katie Owens-Murphy, University of North Alabama
  • QuiltSpeak: Uncovering Women’s Voices in the North Carolina Museum of History’s Permanent Collection,” The Public Historian Vol 43, No 4, Diana Bell-Kite, North Carolina Museum of History
    • Honorable Mention – “Printing the Past: Building Accessibility and Engagement Through 3-D Technologies,” The Public Historian Vol 43, No 2, Katie Stringer Clary and Carolyn Dillian, Coastal Carolina University
  • “Ancestry.com and the Evolving Nature of Historical Information Companies,” The Public Historian Vol 42, No 1, Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester
    • Honorable Mention – “Scaling Invisible Walls: Reasserting Indigenous Persistence in Mission-Era California,” The Public Historian Vol 42, No 4, Tsim D. Schneider, University of California, Santa Cruz; Khal Schneider, California State University, Sacramento; and Lee M. Panich, Santa Clara University
  • “Public Disclosures of Private Realities: HIV/AIDS and the Domestic Archive,” “Queering Public History: The State of the Field” special issue, The Public Historian Vol 41, No 2, Stephen Vider, Cornell University
    • Honorable Mention – “A Heritage of Resilience: Ho-Chunk Family Photographs in the Visual Archive,” “Conversations on Critical Cultural Heritage” special issue, The Public Historian Vol 41, No 1, Amy Lonetree, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • “Building Homes for Black History: Museum Founders, Founding Directors, and Pioneers, 1915-95”, “State of Black Museums: Historiography Commemorating the Founding and Existence of Black Museums over Four Decades” special issue, The Public Historian Vol 40, No 3, Fath Davis Ruffins, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
    • Honorable Mention – “The Impact of Social Movements on the Development of African American Museums”, “State of Black Museums: Historiography Commemorating the Founding and Existence of Black Museums over Four Decades” special issue, The Public Historian Vol 40, No 3, John E. Fleming, National Museum of African American Music
  • “From Main Reef to Albertina Sisulu Road: The Signposted Heroine and the Politics of Memory,” The Public Historian Vol 39, No 2, Natasha Erlank, University of Johannesburg
    • Honorable Mention – “Make Roanoke Queer Again: Community History and Urban Change in a Southern City,” The Public Historian Vol 39, No 1, Gregory Rosenthal, Roanoke College
  • “History Matters: What Happens When African Americans Confront Their Difficult Past,”
    Phillip Seitz, The Public Historian Vol. 38, No. 2
    • Honorable Mention- “Pulling from Outside, Pushing from Inside: Imperiled Promise and Change in the National Park Service,”
      Anne Mitchell Whisnant and Marla Miller, The Public Historian Vol. 38, No. 4
  • “’Plan or Be Planned For’: Temple Contemporary’s Funeral for a Home and the Politics of Engagement,”
    Patrick Grossi, The Public Historian Vol. 37, No. 2
    • “Playing Victorian: Heritage, Authenticity, and Make-Believe in Blists Hill Victorian Town, the Ironbridge Gorge,”
      Lara Rutherford-Morrison, The Public Historian Vol. 37, No. 3
  • “In the Shadow of the Butcher: The Limits to Confronting colonial Legacies Through Commemoration in South Africa,”
    Julia C. Wells, The Public Historian Vol. 36, No. 2
    • Honorable Mention- “Reflections in the Public Interpretation of Regional Environmental History in Western Pennsylvania,”
      Chris J. Magoc, The Public Historian Vol. 36, No. 3
  • Richard Rabinowitz (American History Workshop), “Eavesdropping at the Well: Interpretive Media in the Slavery in New York Exhibition,” The Public Historian Vol. 35, No. 3.
  • Elizabeth Belanger (Assistant Professor of History, Director, American Studies Program; Stonehill College) “Public History and Liberal Learning: Making the Case for the Undergraduate Practicum Experience,” The Public Historian Vol 34, No 4.
    • Honorable Mention- Andrew Haley, Associate Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi, “The Nation before Taste: The Challenges of American Culinary History,” The Public Historian Vol. 34, No 2.
    • Honorable Mention- Julia Brock, Jennifer Dickey and Catherine Lewis, Museum of History and Holocaust Education, and Samir El Azhar, Université Hassan II Mohammedia, Ben M’sik, “Exploring Identities: Public History in a Cross-Cultural Context,” The Public Historian Vol. 34, No 4.
  • First Place- Robert Weible (State Historian of New York and Chief Curator of the New York State Museum), “Visions and Reality: Reconsidering the Creation and Development of Lowell’s National Park, 1966-1992” (The Public Historian 33:2, 2011)
  • Second Place- Valerie Altizer and Timothy Baumann (Indiana University’s Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology), Andrew Hurley (University of Missouri-St. Louis), and Victoria Love (Missouri State Parks), “Interpreting Uncomfortable History at the Scott Joplin State Historic Site in St. Louis, Missouri” (The Public Historian 33:2, 2011)
  • Mary Stevens, “Public Policy and the Public Historian: The Changing Place of Historians in Public Life in France and the UK” (The Public Historian 32:3, 2010)
  • Lisa DiCaprio, “The Betrayal of Srebrenica: The Ten-Year Commemoration” (The Public Historian 31:3, 2009)
  • Cary Carson, “The End of History Museums: What is Plan B?” (The Public Historian 30:4, 2008)
  • Susan Bachrach, “Deadly Medicine” (The Public Historian 29:3, 2007)
  • Katharine T. Corbett and Howard S. Miller, “A Shared Inquiry into Shared Inquiry” (The Public Historian 28:1, 2006)
  • Robert R. Weyeneth, “The Architecture of Racial Segregation: The Challenges of Preserving the Problematical Past” (The Public Historian 27:4, 2005)
  • Phyllis Leffler, “Peopling the Portholes: National Identity and Maritime Museums in the U.S. and U.K.” (The Public Historian 26:4, 2004)
  • Robert T. Hayashi, “Transfigured Patterns: Contesting Memories at the Manzanar National Historic Site” (The Public Historian 25:4, 2003)
  • Kerry Smith, The Shôwa Hall: Memorializing Japan’s War at Home (The Public Historian 24:4, 2002)
  • Ginetta Candelario, “‘Black Behind the Ears’–and Up Front Too? Dominicans in The Black Mosaic” (The Public Historian 23:4, 2001)
  • Peter Liebhold, “Experiences from the Front Line: Presenting a Controversial Exhibition during the Culture Wars” (The Public Historian 22:3, 2000)
  • Charlene Mires, “In the Shadow of Independence Hall: Vernacular Activities and the Meanings of Historic Places” (The Public Historian 21:2, 1999)
  • Cary Carson, Colonial “Williamsburg and the Practice of Interpretive Planning in American History Museums” (The Public Historian 20:3, 1998)
  • Giselle Byrnes, “Jackals of the Crown? Historians and the Treaty Claims Process in New Zealand”  (The Public Historian 20:2, 1998)
  • Paul Litt, “Pliant Clio and Immutable Texts: The Historiography of a Historical Marking Program” (The Public Historian 19:4, 1997)
  • David Glassberg, “Public History and the Study of Memory” (The Public Historian 18:2, 1996)
  • Steve Lubar, “In the Footsteps of Perry: The Smithsonian Goes to Japan” (The Public Historian 17:3, 1995)
  • Nigel Worden, “Unwrapping History at the Cape Town Waterfront” (The Public Historian 16:2, 1994)
  • Hugh Davis Graham, “The Stunted Career of Policy History: A Critique and an Agenda” (The Public Historian 15:2, 1993)
  • Jeffrey K. Stine, “The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Evolution of Cultural Resources Management” (The Public Historian 14:2, 1992)
  • James Lindgren, “Virginia Needs Living Heroes’: Historic Preservation in the Progressive Era” (The Public Historian 13:1, 1991)
  • Bruce Craig, “Politics in the Pumpkin Patch” (The Public Historian 12:1, 1990)
  • Barnes Riznik, “Hanalei Bridge: A Catalyst for Rural Preservation” (The Public Historian 11:3, 1989)
  • David Garrow, “FBI Political Harassment and FBI Historiography: Analyzing Informants and Measuring the Effects” (The Public Historian 10:4, 1988)
  • Richard Gillam and Barton Bernstein, “Doing Harm: The DES Tragedy and Modern American Medicine” (The Public Historian 9:1, 1987)
  • Stephen Mikesell, “Historic Preservation That Counts: Quantitative Methods for Evaluating Historic Resources” (The Public Historian 8:4, 1986)

First year presented

  • Thomas Schlereth, “Material Culture Research and Historical Explanation” (The Public Historian 7:4, 1985)