Society for History in the Federal Government

John Wesley Powell Prize

Historic Preservation and Historical Display Projects

The Historic Preservation and Historical Display Prize annually honors distinction by an individual or principal collaborators for a single historical display/interpretation project, or historic preservation project completed in the last two years. The award is given for any form of interpretive historical presentation including, but not limited to, museum exhibits, interpretive media products, or programs; or to any project involving the preservation of records, artifacts, buildings, historical sites, and other historical entities. The prize rotates annually between projects of historical display/interpretation (awarded in even years) and those of historic preservation (awarded in odd years).

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

Submission Guidelines for 2021 Prize – Historic Preservation Activities


The prize will be conferred on a project created by any agency or unit of the federal government. Nongovernmental organizations (including federal contractors, non-profits, or state governments, if they are partnering with a federal agency) 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 (and still meet the requirement of completion within the past two years).

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

Historical Display/Interpretation (odd years)

  • 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 (even years)

  • Restoration projects dedicated to preserving historic properties,

  • Major programs that contribute to larger historic preservation efforts. 

Evaluation Criteria

Nominations and supporting materials should specifically address the following 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. 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.

4. (When 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.

Submission Process

The award is made solely on the basis of the materials submitted to the Powell Prize Committee.

1.  Nominations should be submitted through Google Forms (at The deadline for submission of all materials is December 4, 2020.

2. Nominations should be submitted in the form of a written narrative not to exceed 1,000 words and a separate explanation of how the project succinctly addresses the evaluation criteria of less than 500 words.

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 emailed to with the title of the project in the subject line. 

If you have questions, please contact one of the panel members:

Leslie Poster, Editor

National Museum of American History

Tracy Baetz, Chief Curator

U.S. Department of Interior Museum

Caridad de la Vega, Cultural Resource Program Manager

National Mall and Memorial Parks, National Park Service


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

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