Isha Vyas awarded by New Jersey Historical Commission

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Isha Vyas. Photo: Isha Vyas.

The New Jersey Historical Commission has announced five awards that will be presented at its annual conference, New Jersey Women Make History, on November 1, 2019, at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Every year the Commission honors individuals and organizations that make significant contributions to state history.

“These awards are used not only to honor the contributions of outstanding individuals and organizations in New Jersey history, but also to remind all of us that history and our understanding of the past is always evolving. There’s always something new to discover about our collective stories,” said Sara Cureton, executive director of the Commission, in a statement. Cureton noted that registration for the conference is open and can be accessed via the Commission’s website.

Karl Niederer will receive the Richard J. Hughes Prize, the Commission’s highest honor, for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the field of New Jersey history. Niederer’s accomplishments in more than 30 years at the State Archives and in subsequent roles at the Departments of Treasury and Environmental Protection include developing the Caucus Archival Projects Evaluation Service (CAPES), helping to secure a new facility for the State Archives, and the Archives’ accession of significant collections. Niederer has further contributed to state history on the local level, including roles with the Hopewell Valley Historical Society, Hopewell Township Historic Sites Commission, Task Force on New Jersey History, Friends of the New Jersey State House, and New Jersey Cultural Alliance for Response.

The Richard P. McCormick Prize of $1,500 is awarded every other year to the author of an outstanding scholarly book on New Jersey history. The 2019 prize will go to Graham Russell Gao Hodges for his book Black New Jersey: 1664 to the Present Day. Hodges is the George Dorland Langdon Jr. Professor of History and Africana & Latin American Studies at Colgate University. His work offers long overdue research on centuries of the African American experience in New Jersey.

There are three recipients of Awards of Recognition, given annually to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to New Jersey history. The 2019 recipients are:

Kinney Clark, Geographic Information Systems Specialist for the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. Kinney has spent 25 years at the HPO and led development of Look Up Cultural resources Yourself (LUCY), a digital tool that locates historical resources, overlays historical aerial views, and provides geographical information for researchers.

Isha Vyas, Division Head of the Middlesex Office of Arts & History. Vyas’s achievements over a 20-year tenure include implementing a history re-grant program and the oral history project Food For Thought, acquiring historic and cultural properties and artifacts, and establishing an American Indian Cultural Center, said the press release.

Vyas has also held/holds the post of Vice President of the Board of Trustees of Woodbridge Township Public Libraries; a member of the New Jersey State Historical Records Advisory Board and a trustee of Advocates of New Jersey History.

Princeton University’s The Trenton Project, a “collaborative documentary investigation” that works with “Trenton residents, institutions, and community partners to produce short films which together offer a kaleidoscopic lens on the challenges Trenton faces, its ambitions for the future, and the many ways Trentonians are working together to weave and repair the fabric of their city” was also awarded, according to the press release.

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