Two University of Windsor graduates are the first recipients of an award for a distinguished work in local history or heritage.
Daniel Wells (BA 1996) and Craig Pearson (MA 1995) received the UWindsor History Department Kulisek Prize for their book, From the Vault, Volume I: A Photo-History of Windsor to 1950 at a reception Friday at the Windsor Star News Café. The prize is named for Larry Kulisek, history professor emeritus.
“I felt honoured to write the history in the first place, so to get an award on top of that is pretty special, especially when it is the first of its kind,” says Pearson, a reporter for the Windsor Star and the book’s author.
From the Vault uses historical photographs from the newspaper’s collection. Miriam Wright, history professor and prize jurist, says the book goes deeper than the photographs. It is a thoughtful study of the social, economic, political and cultural life of the city.
“This book is about important local stories like the Ford Strike and the labour movement history,” says Dr. Wright. “It is also gives us a chance to see big stories, like the world wars, prohibition and the great depression, through a local lens.”
Wells edited From the Vault; he owns the Biblioasis, the publishing house which produced the book. He says since he started publishing in 2004, Biblioasis has released local history titles and the photos, more often than not, came from the Windsor Star.
Realizing he was sitting on an immense archive of local images, he had the idea to partner with the newspaper and publish a vintage photo book.
“The more photos I came across, the more I understood the seminal role Windsor has played in so many events in history,” says Wells. “Obviously people think of the automotive industry, but I didn’t know we had the first streetcars in North America. With my research I began to realize how important this area has been in shaping 20th century Canadian life on numerous levels.”
While working on his degree in history and philosophy, Wells took a local history class taught by Dr. Kulisek. He says he was deeply honoured to win the prize, especially since he knows its namesake.
“I was happy to hear that Dr. Kulizek is alive and well. He was always incredibly warm and supportive,” says Wells.
From the Vault is Windsor’s fastest-selling local history book.
“This book was received enthusiastically by the public,” says Wright. “It clearly connected with the people of Windsor, offering a compelling glimpse into the city’s fascinating and important history, everyone loves stories, especially about their own place.”