Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg presented the Excellence in History Awards, which recognize individuals, organizations and communities who have made outstanding contributions to the study and practice of Iowa history.


“I am proud of our state and passionate about its history,” Reynolds said. “So it gives me great pleasure to recognize this year’s recipients of the Excellence in History Awards. I appreciate the dedication they have shown in preserving and sharing the history of our state and congratulate them on this outstanding achievement.”


The Iowa Jewish Historical Society, based in Waukee, received a Loren Horton Community History Certificate of Recognition for their project, a series of six programs in Iowa featuring Auschwitz Survivor and Schindlerjuden Celina Karp Biniaz.


“The Board and staff are honored to receive it,” said Sandra Yoder, the Executive Director of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society. “We’re very proud of the programs that were presented.”


The Loren Horton Community History Award is named in honor of Loren Horton, who represented the State Historical Society of Iowa in many capacities from 1973 until his retirement in 1996. The award recognizes an individual, group, or organization whose outstanding local history project was completed during the previous calendar year.


Biniaz is one of the Des Moines area’s last living survivors from Schindler’s List. She attended high school at Des Moines North and graduated college at Grinnell College.


Yoder said that Biniaz spoke to about 3,000 people over the course of four or five days last fall as she told her story of surviving the Holocaust.


“Celina Karp Biniaz is an amazing woman who is able to communicate the horrors of what she went through and how she was able to forgive and work towards better understanding for all people,” Yoder said.


Three of Biniaz’s presentations are now available on YouTube:


Sept. 10, 2017 at Valley High School: https://youtu.be/rM_gFzw10T0


Sept. 12, 2017 at the Iowa Jewish Historical Society Luncheon: https://youtu.be/vzUWvi_cJts


Sept. 13, 2017 at Des Moines North High School: https://youtu.be/eOhqK4zFgHY


This is the second time in five years that the Iowa Jewish Historical Society has received state recognition for their work. They previously received a certificate of recognition for their efforts in recognizing and honoring all of Iowa’s Jewish Veterans.


Matthew Walsh, of Waukee, received the 2018 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Published Book Award for his book “The Good Governor: Robert Ray and the Indochinese Refugees of Iowa.”


The Benjamin F. Shambaugh Published Book Award recognizes the author of the most significant book published on Iowa history during the previous calendar year. It is named in honor of Benjamin F. Shambaugh, who for 40 years was the superintendent of the State Historical Society of Iowa and a professor of political economy at the University of Iowa.