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Augsburg College project named recipient of Alice Smith Prize

(SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA) — Augsburg College History Department faculty members Kirsten Delegard and Michael Lansing were presented the Alice Smith Prize for best public history project completed in the previous calendar year by the Midwestern History Association.

The Historyapolis Project (historyapolis.com and facebook.com/TheHistoryapolisProject) was created when Delegard, a current scholar-in-residence at Augsburg College, realized that her hometown of Minneapolis was blind to its own tumultuous history, more comfortable planning for the future than confronting the past. Augsburg students are deeply involved with the project, which aims to make the city’s history accessible and helps catalyze community dialogue around challenging aspects of local history.

Delegard holds a doctorate in history from Duke University and is the author of “Battling Miss Bolsheviki: The Origins of Female Conservatism in the United States” (Penn, 2012).  Delegard was also the co-editor, with Nancy A. Hewitt, for the two-volume textbook “Women, Families and Communities: Readings in American History (Longman Publishing, 2008). As part of the Historyapolis Project, Delegard is at work on a new history of Minneapolis, which is tentatively titled “City of Light and Darkness: The Making of a Progressive Metropolis in Minneapolis.”

Lansing, associate professor and chair of Augsburg’s Department of History, is the project’s principal investigator. Born and raised born in the Twin Cities, Lansing’s current project is “The Mill City: Minneapolis and the Making of America’s Food,” a history of the city’s central role in the creation and propagation of industrial food across the globe. His books include “Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics” (Chicago, 2015) and the co-authored “The American West: A Concise History” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008). As a proponent of participatory democratic work, Lansing remains an active public historian. His many experiences include an oral history project with the Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club, a congregational history, and bringing the Historyapolis Project to Augsburg.

Named after the director of research at the Wisconsin Historical Society from 1947 to 1965 who authored six books and numerous articles on the state’s history, the Alice Smith prize honors a public history project that contributes to broader public reflection and appreciation of the region’s past.

The members of this year’s Smith Prize committee are chair Aaron Shapiro of the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Amy Tyson of DePaul University, and Jeff Manuel of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“In its first year, nominations for the Smith Prize highlighted the growing strength and vitality of public history work across the region,” said Shapiro. “My fellow committee members Jeff Manuel, Amy Tyson and I found the Historyapolis project’s integration of public history, undergraduate teaching, ability to share authority, effective use of social media and community engagement particularly compelling and acknowledge the vital contribution it makes toward fostering dialogue about the Twin Cities’ past, present and future.”

The Smith Prize committee will open nominations for the 2015 prize before the end of the year.

Visit the Midwestern History Association website for more information.

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