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Sister Alfreda Elsensohn Award

Sister Alfreda

The Sister Alfreda Elsensohn Award for Outstanding Service was initiated in 2008.  It has been a joint award given annually by the Idaho Humanities Council, and Idaho State Historical Society to recognize outstanding service by an Idaho museum, historical society, or interpretive organization/association.

The Award is named for Sister Alfreda Elsensohn, who founded the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude in Cottonwood.  Sister Alfreda, one of Idaho’s outstanding historians, sought to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts from Idaho County and the surrounding area to better educate the public.  A museum is a bridge which links the present with the past, she often said. It is her vision of Idaho museums as exciting, interactive, and educational institutions that the Award seeks to recognize by honoring one outstanding Idaho museum, historical society, or interpretive organization/association.

The following criteria will be considered by the sponsors each year in determining the awardee for that year. Additional criteria may also be considered:

  • Will have a record of outstanding professional programming.
  • Will be leaders in the field of Idaho museums, historical societies, or interpretive organizations/associations.
  • Will have a record of sharing their resources and information with community and statewide partners, thereby assisting in the development of professional level historical interpretation, displays, and preservation of Idaho’s History.
  • Will demonstrate success in collaborative community work.
  • Will be able to use the funding to move to a higher level of professionalism and have experience in administering and implementing grant-funded projects and programs.



While only one Award will be given annually, it is the goal of the sponsors to have a fairly even distribution of the award in the various geographical regions of the state.  There is no application form to complete; the sponsors select an awardee each year.

Sister Alfreda Award Highlight

Idaho Black History Museum

Idaho Black History Museum, Boise, Idaho receives the Sister Alfreda Elsensohn Award for its outstanding work.  The Sister Alfreda recognition includes a $10,000 award to be used by the awarded museum, historical society, or interpretive organization to continue its educational efforts.

The Idaho Black History Museum was established in 1995 and called St. Paul Baptist Church its home. In 1998 the building was moved to Julia Davis Park in order to ensure its preservation and celebration as a significant part of Boise’s history. In 1982, the building was placed in the National Register of Historic Places and remains one of the oldest buildings built by African Americans in Boise.

The museum presents exhibits and provides educational and community outreach programs including lectures, films, workshops, and literacy programs.

The Idaho Black History Museum is located at 508 Julia Davis Drive, Boise, Idaho. Open Saturday 11 am-4 pm. Visit to learn more about the museum. 

The Idaho State Historical Society and the Idaho Humanities Council will present the 2020 Sister Alfreda Award to Phillip Thompson, Executive Director of the Idaho Black History Museum at the 2021 Esto Perpetua Award Ceremony.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Idaho State Museum, 610 Julia Davis Drive, Boise, ID

Doors open at 5:00 pm

Program begins at 5:30 pm

Tickets must be purchased in advance and will be available online starting July 7, 2021 at or you may purchase by calling (208) 514-2302

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