Annual Awards


An award is presented by The West Tennessee Historical Society to an individual or organization for outstanding contribution to the area’s history. The award is chosen by the WTHS Board. Past winners:

2011 Memphis University School

2012 Tom Leatherwood

2013 Willy Bearden

2014 Theodore Bradford “Tim” Sloan

2015  Perre Magness

2016 John S. Shepherd

2017 Vincent L. Clark

2018 G. Wayne Dowdy


Since 1973, an award is presented by The West Tennessee Historical Society to the contributor of the article chosen by the Executive Committee as being the best of those printed in each number of The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers. Past winners and their contributions:

1973    Larry Daniel, “The Quinby and Robinson Cannon Foundry at Memphis.”

1974    John Esterhold, “Fort Heiman: Forgotten Fortress.”

1975    James E. Roper, “The Revolutionary War on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff.”

1976    Charles A. Bobbin, “The Memphis Gold Cup.”

1977    John Norris, “Park Field—World War I Pilot Training School.”

1978    Stephen M. Findlay, “The Alleghany: A Revisionist Note on a Memphis Myth.”

1979    Roger Raymond Van Dyke, “Antebellum Henry County.”

1980    Jerome G. Taylor, “Upper Class Violence in Nineteenth-Century Tennessee.”

1981    Joanne Cullom Moore, “The Devil’s Elbow.”

1982    Fred A. Bailey, “The Poor, Plain Folk, and Planters: A Social Analysis of Middle Tennessee Respondents to the Civil War Veterans Questionnaires.”

1983    Patricia M. LaPointe, “The Disrupted Years: Memphis City Hospitals, 1860-1867.”

1984    Granville D. Davis, “An Uncertain Confederate Trumpet: A Study of Erosion in Morale.”

1985    Charles L. Lufkin, “A Forgotten Controversy: The Assassination of Senator Almon Case of Tennessee.”

1986    Richard W. Hepler, “Bovine Tuberculosis and the Batde for Pure Milk in Memphis, 1910-1911″; and Lucie Robertson Bridgforth, “The ‘New’ Woman in an Old Role: Maternal-Child Health Care in Memphis.”

1987    Lynette B. Wrenn, “The Impact of Yellow Fever on Memphis: A Reappraisal.”

1988    Peggy Scott Holley, “The Seventh Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry: West Tennessee Unionists in Andersonville Prison.”

1989    John Linn Hopkins, “The Early History of Overton Park and the Memphis Park System.”

1990    Beth Quimet, “Thomas Jefferson Dobyns: River City Daguerreian Entrepreneur.”

1991    R. W Waschka, “River Transportation at Memphis before the Civil War.”

1992    Eda Clark Fain, “’Cut Loose the Corset Strings of Dull Times’: Attending Carnival in Memphis through Newsprint Advertising, 1872-1881.”

1993    Lonnie Maness: “Henry Emerson Etheridge and the Gubernatorial Election of 1867: A Study in Futility.”

1994    James B. Jones, “Selected Aspects of Drug Abuse in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Tennessee History.”

1995    Alice S. Long, “My Dear Manly Son: The Death of Jefferson Davis, Jr., at Buntyn Station, Tennessee, 1878.”

1996    Darla Brock, “Memphis’s Nymphs Du Pave: ‘The Most Abandoned Women in the World.'”

1997    Dieter C. Ullrich, “They Met at Lockridges Mills.”

1998    Harvey G. Hudspeth, “Seven Days in Nashville: Politics, the State Debt and the Making of a United States Senator, January 19-26, 1881.”

1999    Holly Reed Harrison, ‘”Our Relation to Persons of African Descent has Been Less Than Ideal . . .’: The Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Life Commission, and Race Relations.”

2000    S. Davidson Hill, “The Self-Defined African American Community of Jim Crow Memphis.”

2001    Derek W. Frisby, “’Remember Me to Everybody’: The Civil War Letters of Samuel Henry Eells, Twelfth Michigan Infantry.”

2002    Timothy B. Smith, “The Handsomest Cemetery in the South: Shiloh National Cemetery.”

2003    Michael Bertrand, “Rock ‘n Roll, Race and Elvis Presley: Southern Youth in Dissent?

2004    Nathan K. Moran, “Bullets vs. Ballots:  Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Congressional Election of 1862.”

2005    Pam Dennis and Jimmy Davis for their three-part series on the history of West Tennessee College, WTHSP vols. LVII-LIX (2003-2005).

2006    Janice Reagan, “The Kennedy Book Club.”

2007    Lauren Elizabeth Nickas, “Conceiving Happiness: Frances Wright and the Nashville Experiment.”

2008    Doug Cupples, “From Atelier to MFA (Then On To The Atelier): A Short History of Art Education in Memphis, Tennessee.”

2009    Richard L. Saunders, “James F. Estes:  Grassroots Advocate.”

2010    Rita Hall, “Colonel Edward Ward: The Life and Death of a Tennessee Senator.”

2011    James R. Chumney, “The Beginning of the University of Memphis.”

2012    George C. Browder, “Robert V. Richardson and the First Tennessee Regiment of Partisan Rangers”’

2013   Dr. Dale E. Zacher, “Our Forest Home:” Editor Edward Meeman’s Crusade for Shelby Forest, 1933-35

2014  George Graham Perry III, “The NAACP, Militancy and the Memphis Sit-ins”

2015  Margaret Williams Carmack, “It’s Becoming Trite:” The Campaign Against Police Brutality in Postwar Memphis

2015  Troy A. Hallsell, “That which is removed is annihilated”: The Overton Park Freeway Revolt, a National Movement, 1955-1981

2016 Dr. Brian Clardy, Impeaching Richard Nixon: Tennessee Congressman Ed Jones, Watergate, and the Politics of Triangulation, 1973-1974

2017 Steven A. Knowlton, The Foundation of the Cossitt Library and the Inauguration of Library Service to African Americans in Memphis and Shelby County

2018 Melinda Meador, Southern Man, Christian Firebrand: Defining the Life of Claude C. Williams

The following appeared in the WTHS Papers 1961

Marshall Wingfield – In Memory by John H. Davis

The West Tennessee Historical Society, the Tennessee Historical Commission, and everyone interested in the field of historical study have suffered an irreparable loss in the death of the Reverend Marshall Wingfield, president of this society, on May 7, 1961. His manifold accomplishments, the wide range of his interests, his deep and abiding concern for his fellow men, called forth glowing tributes and reminiscent anecdotes from “all sorts and conditions of men”. In fact the “Parson” engaged in so many humanitarian activities that one wonders where he found the time to devote to what we believe to have been his major interest (except, of course, his interest in the Church and his ministry), namely his concern for the welfare of this society.

Dr. Wingfield came to Memphis in 1937 as minister of the First Congregational Church. He found the old Memphis Historical Society, recently (1935) transmuted into a West Tennessee Historical Society, in a moribund condition. He breathed new life and vigor into it, he extended its interests and activities to include the whole of the Western District, and was instrumental (with the help of the Tennessee Historical Commission, of which he soon became an active participant) in launching the publication of the Society’s Papers (1947). He contributed the first article to the first number, “Writers and Writings of West Tennessee”, in all provided four articles and edited two diaries for the Papers (see vols. I, III, IV, X, XIII). But this was only a small portion of his historical activity; for during the period of his presidency he wrote several books, was the driving force in securing speakers for our programs, articles for the journal, and able personnel for the Executive Committee and for the editorial board. He was instrumental in having the Society incorporated (1950) and in inaugurating peripatetic meetings which would serve to increase interest throughout West Tennessee. Thus he has served this society for twenty-two years, ably aided and abetted by his charming and efficient wife, Marie Gregson Wingfield. When he retired from the ministry in 1958, he realized that he was in poor health, and informed the Executive Committee that he planned to retire as President. Being persuaded by that committee to remain on, he remarked to them, in prophetic words, at the June meeting of 1960, “This is positively my last year”.

Lack of space forbids the listing here of his many accomplishments, the many organizations to which he belonged, his varied education, his degrees and travel (historians are expected to know how to consult Who’s Who and other reference works). Of the fourteen volumes of Dr. Wingfield’s published work (sermons, poetry, history), four historical volumes remain in print: A history of Caroline County; Virginia (1924), Literary Memphis (1941), An Old Virginia Court (1948) and General A. P. Stewart (1954).

As noted above, tributes from many diverse sources poured in at the time of his death; editorials, reviews of his career, reminiscences (e.g., Paul Flowers’ Greenhouse) etc.; we should like to include them all, but will limit ourselves to two. First, some excerpts from a very eloquent tribute by a longtime friend, Rabbi James Wax, which was given by Dr. Wax over the radio station WMPS during what had been Dr. Wingfield’s hour; and in conclusion a brief “In Memory” poem by Paul Sawrie.

  • Marshall Wingfield was an uncommon man, with a common touch. His earthly life was less than three score years and ten, but he accomplished so very much. It is difficult to comprehend his ministry. It was so broad and all-embracing. Within his life time, he served so many causes and he served them well.

He was an historian and a scholar; a writer and a poet; a preacher and a prophet; a leader and a humanitarian. Whatever was human interested him. Whenever he could help – he helped. Whenever he could serve – he served.

The greatness of Marshall Wingfield lies not only in the diversity of his many interests, but in the unity of his philosophy.

Marshall Wingfield believed profoundly that all men were children of God – that every human being had within him a spark of divinity. Thus he sought consistently and ceaselessly to improve the conditions under which men live; that every person should achieve his highest potentialities and live with dignity. If there was injustice, he sought to remove it. If there was bigotry, he sought to blot it out. The voice of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the mistreated touched him deeply, and during the days of his years he battled wisely and fervently for justice, righteousness, and peace.

…He was a man of vast knowledge, deep understanding, lofty principles and broad vision. We can truly say that the world is better because Marshall Wingfield lived in it … His prophetic voice has been stilled; his scholarly pen has been halted; but what he said and wrote will live on as a blessing and inspiration … We express our thanks to God for the life of Marshall Wingfield. We thank Him for his love and labors; may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

  • In Memory of Marshall Wingfield, a Great American

The ember of his kindness

Will forever brightly glow,

As gold in autumn’s foliage

As sun on winter’s snow.