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Elkhart County Historical Museum Wins National Award

Courtesy Elkhart County Historical Museum

The Elkhart County Historical Museum has won a national award for its exhibit “Crossroads of Elkhart County," which chronicles the county's history from the arrival of native groups to the industrial revolution and the present day. 


The exhibit took three years to complete, and seeks to highlight the county’s Native American, African American, Latinx and Anabaptist voices.


The exhibit won an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History, which seeks to recognize what the association calls “good history.”


According to the association, that means awardees act to build diversity and inclusiveness, demonstrate the relevance of history and attempt to be accessible to wide audiences, among other things.


(You can read more about the historical museum's award below.)

NASHVILLE, TN—June 2021—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Elkhart County Historical Museum is the recipient of an Award of Excellence for the Crossroads of Elkhart County exhibition. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. 

Crossroads of Elkhart County is a three-phase reimagining of the museum’s main floor galleries that strives to help visitors gain a grounding in the history of the area, give voice to the people who lived here, and find relevance to today. The project took three years to complete and owes its success to many partners – including Goshen College, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, to name only a few. The first gallery, “Forging at Path,” introduces the Paleo people and continues through the Archaic and Woodland periods. In a transformational shift for the museum, the exhibit presents, in their own words, the cultural foundations in this area of the Miami and Potawatomi, ending just before the arrival of the French in 1670. “Claiming the Land” chronicles the experiences of Native cultures, specifically the Miami and Potawatomi, as European and American groups moved into this region during the 1700s and 1800s. The final gallery, “Making a Place” begins with the arrival of trains in 1851 and continues into the present. The gallery highlights the rise of industry, weaves in African American, Latinx and Anabaptist voices, and gives visitors a place to share their own stories.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer thirty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. 

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to

The Elkhart County Historical Museum is a partnership between the Elkhart County Parks Department and the Elkhart County Historical Society, which was founded in 1896. Since 1968 the Museum has been housed in the 1903 Bristol School. The mission of the Museum is to tell the ongoing story of Elkhart County by building lasting connections to history. Visitors to the Museum can explore the many people, places, and events that make up the history of Elkhart County. Unique and engaging programming is offered year-round and school field trips are available covering a range of topics and grade levels. The extensive collection reflects the county’s cultural heritage and helps tell the story of Elkhart County in both permanent and temporary exhibits.More at:

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and maintains numerous affinity communities and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors an annual meeting, regional and national training in-person workshops, and online training.

Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.