In 1999 the Texas Oral History Association initiated an award to bring recognition to oral history projects exemplifying distinguished preservation of community history. The award is named for longtime community historian and twice TOHA president, Mary Faye Willms-Barnes, of Lockhart, Texas.
For the purposes of this award, community history is broadly defined, to include the history of a village, town, or urban neighborhood, but also to include the history of a business, school, hospital, social organization, religious organization, or other public or private institution.
Project developers and leaders may submit their projects to TOHA for consideration and nominations may be accepted from community members. TOHA members and local historical associations are encouraged to submit nominations. Nominees are not required to be members of TOHA. To nominate a project, complete the Community History Award Nomination Form and return it with the required attachments to TOHA headquarters by February 1. Nominations will be distributed for evaluation by a TOHA Awards Committee appointed by the TOHA President. Committee members must be TOHA members but do not have to be TOHA Board members. The Awards Committee may develop an interview procedure to receive adequate information to evaluate a project. The Awards Committee will present award candidates to the TOHA Board of Directors for approval. No limits exist on the number of awards presented within a year.
The award consists of an award certificate in a presentation folder or engraved on a plaque. A resolution statement describing the outstanding characteristics of the project may be developed and presented. Whenever possible, the award will be presented in the community setting by a TOHA member living in the region of the award winner. TOHA will announce the award in its newsletter and Web site. The Awards Committee will provide information on the award to appropriate local media and/or other historical associations.