Distinguished Service Awards

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) established the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) to recognize above average County Historical Commission (CHC) preservation efforts and promote CHC accomplishments to the public. DSAs are determined by responses provided on CHC annual reports. Outreach Program staff review annual reports and high performing CHCs, when compared statewide, are recommended for a DSA.

Read more about the 2022 DSA recipients here.

View DSA criteria and considerations here.

A list of all DSA recipients since 2002 is available here.

THC Preservation Awards

The THC offers annual awards to recognize worthy accomplishments and exemplary leadership in the preservation of Texas’ heritage. These awards are typically presented the following year at the THC's Real Places Conference. The THC’s most prestigious award, the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, is presented in a special ceremony arranged with staff of the Governor’s Office. The THC accepts nominations for the following categories:

  • Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation
  • Ruth Lester Lifetime Achievement Award
  • John Ben Shepperd County Historical Commission Leadership Award
  • George Christian Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award
  • John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums
  • Curtis D. Tunnell Lifetime Achievement Award in Archeology
  • Anice B. Read Award of Excellence in Community Heritage Development
  • Texas Historical Commission Award of Excellence in Preserving History
  • Texas Historical Commission Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture
  • Texas Historical Commission Award of Excellence in Media Achievement

Do you know an individual you believe worthy of a THC Preservation Award? If so, visit the THC Preservation Awards page to learn more.


  • Dr. Lucile Estell, former chair of Milam CHC, was awarded the 2023 Ruth Lester Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Harry Bob Martin, former chair of Dickens CHC, was awarded the 2023 John Ben Sheppard CHC Leadership Award.
  • Joe D. Plunkett, Williamson CHC appointee, was awarded the 2023 George Christian Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Award of Merit

The THC Award of Merit is an excellent way for CHCs to recognize an individual or organization for their outstanding service to regional or statewide historic preservation. The Award of Merit is sponsored, reviewed, and issued by the THC but presented by the nominating party or local officials. Unlike the THC Preservation Awards, nominations for the THC Award of Merit are accepted year-round.

Reasons to nominate an individual or organization for an Award of Merit:

  • Outstanding leadership in local historic preservation projects.
  • Revitalization of a CHC or other history-related organization.
  • Contributions that led to a broader interpretation of diverse resources in the region.
  • Efforts to engage underrepresented communities in history-related activities.
  • Partnerships that ensured the completion of a history related project/event.
  • Organizations that implemented efforts to diversify museum educational material/exhibits.

Do you know an individual or organization you would like to nominate? If so, visit the THC Preservation Awards website to learn more.


  • Pecos CHC was awarded an Award of Merit for their two-day celebration commemorating the Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River.
  • Galveston CHC was awarded an Award of Merit for their restoration of Camp Wallace.

Local Awards

The THC is not the only entity that provides awards to individuals and organizations for achievements in historic preservation. We recommend CHCs consider implementing local awards programs to acknowledge those that have made significant contributions to historic preservation within their communities.


  • Bell CHC hosts the annual Bell County Historical Commission Hall of Fame. In 2023, the CHC and the county commissioners court recognized the late Dr. Thomas David Yeilding for his lifelong dedication to historic preservation in Bell County.  Dr. Yeilding’s wife, Mrs. Donnie Yeilding, received the dedication in his honor.
  • Aransas CHC hosts the annual Aransas County Award for Historical Preservation. In 2022, recipients included Jackie Shaw, Ty Husak, Jennifer Day, and Sandy Garrison.
  • Lamar CHC hosts the annual History Maker of the Year Award. In 2022, the CHC and county officials presented the award to Lamar County Emergency Management Coordinator, Quincy Blount, to recognize his organization’s efforts in assisting the county during an unprecedented tornado.