Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Heritage Keeper Awards

Purpose of the Awards

With annual awards, The Montana Historical Society's Board of Trustees honors exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana's historical and cultural heritage for current and future generations.   For inspiration and emulation, the Board maintains a list of  past awardees  on the Montana Historical Society website.  Up to three (3) annual Heritage Keeper Awards—depending on the availability of worthy candidates—honor distinguished Heritage Service to the State and People of Montana by Montana residents.  An additional award, The Montana Heritage Guardian Award, recognizes the record of accomplishment of one the nominees for the Heritage Keeper Award, but the Board reserves the right not to award a Montana Heritage Guardian Award in a given year unless warranted by the record of outstanding accomplishment.  

Award Criteria

Nominations must provide the evidence to support the honor for living individuals or currently active organizations (committees or organizations that have significantly contributed to the preservation and presentation of Montana statewide, regional, or community history and culture).  The person nominated shall have demonstrated commitment to a significant Montana history project or projects or to the identification and preservation of objects or property of general or specific significance to Montana history and culture. Organizations must also have a demonstrated record of accomplishment to the preservation and celebration of Montana historical and cultural heritage.  Nominators must emphasize the individual nominee's commitment to Montana historical and cultural preservation   beyond   the requirements of professional employment, or the organization's record of accomplishment in Montana historical and cultural preservation   beyond   the specific goals and objectives in the organization's charter.  Examples of nominees for this Award include individual professionals such as artists, educators, authors, genealogists, historians, preservationists, archivists, and public servants; historical and cultural clubs and associations; and members of the general public devoted to the preservation and interpretation of Montana history and culture, including unique Montana landscapes.  Evaluation of the nominations will focus on the significance and impact of the body of work in enhancing, promoting, and stimulating general public interest in some specific aspect of Montana history and culture, including historic building and landscape preservation, sustained historical and cultural research and publication, fine art history and preservation, historical reenactments, and efforts that promote and educate future generations about the historical and cultural legacy of all Montanans.

Nomination Procedure

The Board of Trustees will promote the Heritage Keeper Awards and Heritage Guardian Award through a variety of methods, including statewide archival, museum, and preservation newsletters and list-serves; press releases to inform the general public; and the Montana Historical Society and related museum, historical society, and preservation organization websites.

Nominations for the Heritage Keeper Award must include:

  • Nomination Form  (PDF)
  • Nomination Narrative: a brief explanation of the extent and significance of the body of work
  • Supporting Documentation: Relevant items that demonstrate the effectiveness and significance of the body of work, i.e. news articles, commendations, letters of support (no more than 3).

Anyone, including MHS staff and Trustees, can submit a completed nomination form by mail, fax or e-mail,   on or before April 1, 2023, to:

Heritage Keeper Awards Chair
Montana Historical Society
225 North Roberts
P.O. Box 201201
Helena, MT 59620-1201
406-444-2696 (fax)

Nominations may be resubmitted and/or reconsidered on an annual basis if the person or group did not receive an Award the previous year or years.

The Heritage Keeper Awards Committee selects and recommends finalists for discussion and final decision by the MHS Board of Trustees during the April Board meeting. Each year the Trustees, by majority vote, will select up to three (3) Heritage Keeper (depending on the availability of worthy candidates) and one (1) Heritage Guardian (if awarded) Awardee. MHS staff informs all nominators of the results.