“Lost Communities of Virginia” by Terri Fisher and Kirsten Sparenborg was selected as a 2013 Award of Merit winner from the American Association for State and Local History’s Leadership in History Awards. 

The award will be presented at the AASLH Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Al., on Sept. 20.

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

“Lost Communities of Virginia,” which is a project of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ Community Design Assistance Center, rediscovers small communities across the commonwealth, telling their stories through photographs, interviews with longtime residents, and historical information.

A drive through the Southwest Virginia countryside sparked an idea when Kirsten Sparenborg, then an intern for the Community Design Assistance Center, happened upon Eggleston, Va., and the interesting history and story behind the seemingly forgotten town. Community Design Assistance Center Director Elizabeth Gilboy recognized that there had to be numerous other “lost communities” like it with stories to tell.

“The stories of these small communities are snapshots of Virginia’s history, and even America’s history. You can see the effects of industrial expansion and contraction, depression and boom times, transportation shifts, and social changes that transformed the country in each of the Lost Communities; it is important to collect these stories before the communities and their storytellers disappear,” said Terri Fisher, outreach and projects coordinator for the Community Design Assistance Center. “We appreciate the recognition by the AASLH that these local Virginia stories are larger than their communities.”

This year, AASLH will confer more than 80 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also brings public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. 

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society.

“Lost Communities of Virginia” by Terri Fisher and Kirsten Sparenborg has received other distinguished honors including the 2012 Library of Virginia’s People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction and Preservation Virginia’s 2012 Outstanding Historic Preservation Research Effort Award.