by Circe Olson Woessner
When I first read the e-mail, my heart skipped a beat.
“On behalf of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), I am delighted to inform you that the Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center was selected as the 2018 Albert B. Corey Award winner by the Leadership in History Awards committee. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.”
In 2011, when we founded the museum, our small board had no idea what we were doing. We had an idea—and good intentions—and that was about it. We were not museum people; we were federal employees and retirees. We knew we wanted our museum to have meaningful, thoughtful programming, and that it would touch on all aspects of military life—the good, the bad, and everything in between. We wanted to portray an accurate picture into military family life, and to represent all types of military families.
I continued reading.
“The Albert B. Corey Award is named in honor of a founder and former president of AASLH and recognizes primarily volunteer-operated organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination in their work. We congratulate you for the work that has brought this honor.”
Without a formal museum background, we had to be creative and intuitive. What would we military families like to tell? We collected stories for our anthologies, From the Front lines to the Home Front:New Mexicans Reflect on War, War Child: Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War,and Shout! Sharing Our Truths: Writings from LGBT Veterans and their Families, and hosted theatrical productions, we created exhibits such as Sacrifice & Service: The American Military Family, Schooling With Uncle Sam, GI Jokesand Inside Out: Memories From Inside the Closet. With these exhibits, we discussed military family life, showcased the DoD schools’ history, explained military humor, and, though art, shared LGBT service members’ experiences. We built a memorial to military families up in Santa Fe. Our small volunteer force poured our heart and soul into our programming.
It was because we tell the military family story in creative ways, we were awarded the Corey Award.
We’ve used hot pads, ACU shirts and pants, aprons and paper as canvas to create a visual portrait of military family life. We’ve collaborated in theatrical productions and filmed a short documentary, Love Song for the Dead: Honoring the Sacrifice & Service of New Mexico’s Military Families. In late 2018-2019 we plan exhibits around Host Nation Hospitality, Addiction/Recovery, and a Korean War-era Christmas exhibit and picture book set in Cold War Japan. We are collaborating on a play with several theatrical groups in Richmond, VA, thanks to a generous grant from the Arcus Foundation.
Because people process information in different ways, every year we think of new ways to tell the military family story, and as things change, we try to keep up with history.
We could not have received the Corey award without all the people out there—to include Nucleus readers—who have offered suggestions, contributed a story or two, or who have answered a call to volunteer or to donate items. We depend on the generosity of strangers to donate a dollar to two to our coffers to fund a project and to help us pay the rent.
We are excited for the future—and want to thank you for your support—and your trust. We could not tell your story without your permission—and we are proud that so many people have trusted us with their memories.
If you haven’t visited us, yet—please do—we are open weekends from 12:30-5:00 and by appointment.
For Immediate Release
Circe Olson Woessner
Museum of the American Military Family
Museum of the American Military Family Wins 2018 AASLH Albert B. Corey Award
NASHVILLE, TN—June 2018—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Tijeras-based Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center is the recipient of the Albert B. Corey Award for the program, INSIDE OUT: Memories from Inside the Closet. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 73rd year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
The Albert B. Corey Award is named in honor of a founder and former president of AASLH and recognizes primarily volunteer-operated organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination in their work. The Leadership in History Awards committee presents the Corey Award at their discretion. This special honor also includes a $500 award for the organization.
“Inside Out: Memories from Inside the Closet,” is an exhibit at the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) which debuted on September 17, 2017 with a music and spoken word program. The exhibit is a collection of personal stories and art painted on military uniform shirts by LGBTQ military veterans and facilitated by psychologist Dr. Kyle Erwin, of El Paso, TX. The exhibit coincided with the release of a MAMF anthology titled SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth: Writings by LGBT veterans and family members of the US Military Services. The book is co-edited by Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, MAMF Executive Director, and Richmond, VA, resident Lora Beldon, MAMF Artist in Residence, Founder of Military Kid Art Project and Co-Director of The BRAT Art Institute. In late 2018, MAMF will collaborate with Richmond’s TheatreLAB, also with help from Diversity Richmond, on a play, based in part, from the anthology, and will launch its follow-up exhibit, “Still Shouting!” in New Mexico.
This year, AASLH is proud to confer forty-four national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2018 AASLH Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday, September 28. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.
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 bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to www.aaslh.org.
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, Tennessee, 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. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and maintains numerous affinity groups and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors an annual meeting, regional and national training in-person workshops, and online training.
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Artist-in-Residence Lora Beldon is an American artist, art educator, curator, and military brat, whose entire life’s work involves documenting the military child experience. She is the founder of Military Kid Art Project. She earned a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her art has been exhibited across the United States and Europe, with many pieces in private and corporate collections. Everywhere and Nowhere, is her recent conceptual series based on growing up within a war-deployed military household. Beldon served as Assistant Director, and later, Director of 1708 Gallery, from 1989-1996, and remains an emeritus member of the gallery. She is also on the board of Richmond’s Iridian Gallery, a new LGBTQ+ non-profit art space. In 2011, Beldon teamed up with Donna Musil of Brats Without Borders, to co-curate the traveling art show “UNCLASSIFIED: The Military Kid Art Show” Subject of a documentary film: Lora and Tom Beldon – The father/daughter team are the subjects of Donna Musil’s new documentary “OUR OWN PRIVATE BATTLEFIELD. She coedited the Museum of the American Military Family’s 2017 anthology: Shout: Sharing Our Truth: Writings of LGBT veterans and family members of the US Military Services.
Brat Liaison Cliff Crawford is a second-generation military brat and a third-generation career Army Officer. Born at Fort Rucker Alabama, Cliff lived in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska in the U.S. but lived primarily in Germany as a child. He attended high school in Frankfurt and Augsburg, West Germany. Upon graduation, Cliff attended the University of Maryland Munich campus. Upon completion of his studies in Munich, Cliff was accepted into the ROTC program at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville Alabama. Commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer in 1986, Cliff spent the next 30 + years serving both as a regular Army Officer and a Reserve Officer. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks Cliff returned to the regular Army as a Logistics officer and served 3 combat tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan. Cliff is currently retired in Albuquerque NM and devotes his time to golf, skiing, music and supporting veteran / military charity projects