Haywood book honored by historians

Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community, was awarded the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award and the Presidents Award at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Society of Historians at Mooresville on Oct. 23.  

The Peace History Award is given to encourage the writing of histories of North Carolina counties, institutions or individuals. The Presidents Award was presented at the conclusion of the day’s events to the most outstanding entry for 2010. This year there were 729 entries and a total of 95 awards.  

Society President Elizabeth Sherrill described the Haywood County history as “the most interesting, well-researched history …  I loved all the visuals in every aspect of the work. It is for this reason that I chose Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community, by Curtis W. Wood, as my choice to receive the 2010 Presidents Award.”  The judges described the book as “a credit to the history of Haywood County and its people. This is a textbook example of how we envision all bicentennial history books to be … complete, readable, articulate, clear and authoritative.”

The project was begun in 2006 by the Historical Society of Haywood County for the celebration of the county’s bicentennial. Curtis Wood, emeritus professor of history at Western Carolina University, was the book’s editor. An advisory committed chaired by Bruce A. Briggs oversaw the project. The committee included Bette Hannah Sprecher, Joan Routh, Kenneth F. Wilson, and Robert Busko.  

Six writers researched and wrote the 15 chapters of the work and helped select the hundreds of photographs included with the text. The writers were Kathy Nanney Ross, Michael Beadle, Patrick Willis, Leon M. “Chip” Killian III, Christina Fulcher Osborne and Richard D. Starnes. The book was published in December 2009 and is available at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.  

The three-year project also included a comprehensive collection of photos and documents that were digitally scanned by the Haywood County Library, and are housed there as a permanent collection. The Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University created a permanent exhibit entitled “Haywood County: A Family of Communities” in support of the project, based on the writers’ research. The exhibit is currently traveling in the Haywood County school system.

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