The Southlake Historical Society’s new creative, engaging website – www.southlakehistory.org – has earned the SHS the Albert B. Corey Award from the American Association of State and Local History as part of its Leadership in History Awards. The annual awards are the nation’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
The Corey Award recognizes primarily volunteer historical organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship and imagination in their work. The website was written by SHS president Anita Robeson and first vice president Connie Cooley. The web designer was Sullivan Perkins of Dallas.
The award will be presented Sept. 20 during the AASLH’s 2013 conference, “Turning Points: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change,” in Birmingham, Ala. The awards banquet is partly sponsored by The History Channel.
The SHS and its website originally were nominated for an Award of Merit, but the awards committee instead gave the group the important Corey Award. The committee found the site to be sophisticated, well-arranged, user-friendly and visually attractive, said Bratten Thomason, director of the History Programs Division of the Texas Historical Commission.
The committee also liked the SHS’s use of the slogan “Preserve the Tradition” – a takeoff on the Dragon football team’s “Protect the Tradition” – as something that would resonate with the community.
In his evaluation of the website, University of North Texas professor Andrew Torget, who has spent 10 years building and creating sites focused on digital scholarship and digital history, wrote “the Southlake site is easily the finest I have seen from a local historical society. It is immersive and engaging, mixing visual and textual in a way that draws the user in … .”
For example, “when users arrive, they are immediately oriented to the region’s history through an animated timeline, which offers images from various eras in Southlake history and short, intriguing textual sketches of life in Southlake during those points in the past. It is a terrific orientation device, allowing users to dive directly into whatever part of the past they find most interesting.”
He added, “One of the greatest challenges in building historically oriented websites is finding a way to orient users in terms of both time and space (the two primary mediums of history), and here the Southlake site succeeds admirably.”
Dawn Youngblood, Tarrant County archivist, wrote in her evaluation that “the website is well-researched and written by persons clearly deeply familiar with local history on a truly meaningful level. The presentation… offers a broad view of local history as well as how local history dovetails with larger historical events ….”
In noting that the population of Southlake has increased five-fold in the last 25 years, she wrote “…it is nothing short of astounding that Southlake had been able to hold on to something of its pioneer and rural roots, maintaining a strong historical foundation upon which the community can build a true sense of identity.”
An important feature of the website is Tell Us Your Story, where current and former residents are invited to tell their personal stories about life in Southlake. “Whether you’ve lived here 90 years or a year, we hope you will write something,” Robeson says. “Tell about your family, a special event, school days, every-day life, your business, whatever. These stories will create an important archive of local information.” Stories can be submitted through the Tell Us Your Story tab.
Tweaks and improvements to the site are being made by the SHS on an ongoing basis. Comments and suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.