2023 HS Genealogy / History Achievement Award

Michelle Enke, Manager of Genealogy / Special Collections, Wichita Public Library, named winner of the 2023 HS Genealogy/History Achievement Award

Michelle Enke

For her work on the “Tell Your COVID Story” project as well as her great contributions to genealogical, archival, and library special collections as a certified archivist and leadership in professional service organizations including the American Library Association (ALA) and local history commissions.” – Award Committee statement

Service to ALA

Michelle has been a member of the American Library Association and RUSA for over 20 years. During this time, she has served on several committees:

Genealogy Committee. 2002-2006. 2019-2020. 2021-2023.

Worked with sub-group to revise the RUSA Genealogy Guidelines for a Unit or Course of Instruction in 2014-15.

Genealogy Pre-conference Planning Committee.

Co-chair for the 2013 Midwinter Pre-conference.

Have presented at the pre-conference on genealogy librarianship and collections. (Now a part of Genealogy Committee.)

Local History Committee. 2006-2008. 2012-2016.

Professional Development Committee. RUSA HS Representative, 2008-2009.

Other Service

Certified Archivist, Academy of Certified Archivists, 2004 – present.

Maintains educational and other requirements and recertifies every five years. Mentors local repositories on archival methods.

Chair, Wichita Photo Archive Committee, Wichita, Kansas, 2002 – 2004.

Plan and implement an online collaborative repository of photographs between the public library, a historical museum, and the university archives. www.wichitaphotos.org 

Registrar, Martha Loving Ferrell Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Wichita, Kansas, 2019 – present.

Helps prospective members trace their ancestry for their nominations form, and submits the forms for approval. 

Commissioner, Historic Preservation Commission, Jefferson City, Missouri, 1996 – 2002.

Served as secretary and historian, researched and nominated structures for local register designation.

Secretary, Historic City of Jefferson, Jefferson City, Missouri, 1995 – 1997. Served as secretary for the non-profit group to research and preserve local historic buildings.

Michelle Enke has been the Manager of the Genealogy / Special Collections section of the Wichita Public Library since 2002. During that time, she has actively grown the genealogy collection from 13,000 volumes to over 46,000 volumes. This collection covers the entire United States, and concentrates on ethnic minorities such as Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and other groups that have settled on the Plains. The Kansas Reference Collection, which covers any non-genealogy topic on the Great Plains, has grown from 3,000 to almost 20,000 volumes during this same time.

In 2010, after asserting that there was a sizeable economic impact from having the genealogy and local history collection at the library, she championed the Wichita Genealogy Society to fund a study by the Center for Economic Development at Wichita State University. A year-long survey of researchers was held which showed they had over an estimated million-dollar impact on the local economy.  The results, in part, also created an impetus for increased funding, for both books and databases, additional staffing, and a sizeable increase in square footage in the new library that opened in 2018. 

Due to a decrease in use, in 2019 the Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution donated their state library collection of over 5,000 volumes, some of which were one-of-a-kind, to the Wichita Public Library. The Special Collections section is now digitizing some public-domain content and placing it online to provide greater access to the information.

In 2021, she researched and wrote the narrative to nominate Wichita as a World War II Heritage City under the National Park Service. With letters of support signed by all six of Kansas’ elected national officials, and many local entities, the nomination was approved in 2022.

 In 2022, with an award of a federal grant, the Tell Your COVID Story project began. It captured a snapshot of the Wichita community and our experiences in 2020 – 2022 with 48 interviews of Wichita residents. Michelle was the researcher and interviewer for the oral histories, which have now been transcribed and placed online. Many of these interviews were emotionally taxing for the subject and Michelle was skillful in her handling of the topics and elicited many personal stories and insights. https://cdm17408.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/COVID-19_4

Established in 1992, the HS Genealogy / History Achievement Award, sponsored by FamilySearch, presents a citation and $1,500 to a librarian, library or publisher, in recognition of professional achievement in historical or genealogical reference, service, or research librarianship. The recipient shall be selected for exceptional accomplishment in one or more of the following areas: leadership; service; training; reference; or publication of recent, significant print or digital reference works/projects that offer access to genealogical or historical sources. Preference shall be given to members of RUSA.

The selection committee was Chaired Kristina S. Lang.

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