NMHS Award Recipients
Since its inception in 1963, the National Maritime Historical Society has used its position as the national voice of our maritime heritage to recognize, through its awards program, effective leaders and organizations in the maritime field.
As we look back over our organization’s history, we reexamine and reaffirm the extraordinary accomplishments of this remarkable group of individuals and institutions who have preserved our vital maritime heritage and in so doing have encouraged others to follow their example. A retrospective of the last five decades of the more than 200 National Maritime Historical Society awards is in and of itself a fascinating glimpse into our shared maritime heritage.
Learn more about the exemplary award recipients below and help us celebrate their work in support of the heritage. Come back often—updates from our awardees are coming in every day!
The American Ship Trust Award, conferred beginning in 1968, is given for leadership in building or restoring historic ships. In 1997, the award was renamed the Karl Kortum American Ship Trust Award in honor of Karl Kortum (1917–1996), a founder of the National Maritime Historical Society. The Founder’s Sheet Anchor Award is given to recognize extraordinary leadership in building the strength and outreach of the Society. Originally established in 1988 to honor the founders of NMHS, in 2005 the award was renamed the David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award to honor the late David O’Neil (1939–2004), a dedicated Society trustee and overseer. The James Monroe Award/Robert G. Albion-James Monroe Award is awarded to maritime historians, deep-water mariners, preservationists, authors, artists, and educators. As the James Monroe Award, it was given by the South Street Seaport Museum from 1968-1972. In 1973, the Society became the awarding institution, and in 1993, the name of the award was changed to recognize the role of the late Robert Albion (1896–1983) in the development of maritime historiography.
The NMHS Distinguished Service Award has been presented each year since 1993 to recognize individuals who, through their personal effort and creativity, have made outstanding contributions to the maritime field. Named for the naval signal for “Well done,” the NMHS Bravo Zulu Award is given to recognize heroic and inspirational performance in the fine tradition of the sea services. The Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Maritime Education, established in 1995, is presented in recognition of outstanding educational programs that foster greater awareness of our maritime heritage. The award is named after broadcaster Walter Cronkite, who served as chair of the Maritime Education Initiative and overseer for the Society for decades.
The NMHS Sea History Award of Appreciation is presented to individuals who regularly contribute exemplary features that have become a mainstay in Sea History magazine, and the Rodney N. Houghton Award is presented for the best feature article in Sea History in the preceding year. That award is named after Rodney Houghton (1938–2007), a dedicated NMHS trustee and passionate advocate for advancing maritime history education. The Service Appreciation Award is presented in gratitude to recognize the extraordinary effort and selfless service of those who volunteer their time and expertise for the advancement of the Society, and the Volunteer Appreciation Award, first conferred in 1996, gratefully recognizes the enduring dedication of outstanding volunteers of the National Maritime Historical Society.
In 2013 the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary, and at that time honored eight pioneers with the NMHS New York Harbor Historic Ship Steward Award of Excellence. These forerunners identified important vessels in New York Harbor and with enormous sacrifice restored them and made them open to the public. That same year, the Society honored Norma Stanford with the NMHS 50th Anniversary Award for her tireless commitment and dedication to the success of the Society. In the years since, the Society has also been honored to work in association with several organizations to present their awards, including the Nautical Research Guild to present its Maritime Research & Modeling Award, the National Coast Guard Museum Association to present its Alexander Hamilton Award, and the Naval Historical Foundation to present its Distinguished Service Award.
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