2022 Book of Merit Award | Wisconsin Historical Society

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2022 Book of Merit Award Winners Announced

2022 Book of Merit Award | Wisconsin Historical Society

The 2022 Book of Merit Award has been awarded to two books: to Martha Bergland for The Birdman of Koshkonong: The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and to Cliff Christl for The Greatest Story in Sports: Green Bay Packers 1919-2019, published by KCI Sports Publishing.

About the Books

The Birdman of Koshkonong: The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien, by Martha Bergland, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press

EnlargeBirdman of Koshkonong


Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin's earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s, though his name is not well known today. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong in 1843 and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the newly established University of Wisconsin and became the first curator and third employee of the new Milwaukee Public Museum.

For all of his achievements, Kumlien never gained the widespread notoriety of Wisconsin naturalists John Muir, Increase Lapham, or Aldo Leopold. Kumlien did his work behind the scenes, content to spend his days in the marshes and swamps rather than in the public eye. He once wrote that he was not "cut out for pretensions and show in the world." Yet, his detailed observations of the Midwest's natural world—including the impact of early agriculture on the environment—were hugely important to the fields of ornithology and botany. As this carefully researched and lovingly rendered biography proves, Thure Kumlien deserves to be remembered as one of Wisconsin's most influential naturalists.

The judging committee noted the narrative drew the reader into the well-researched book. They appreciated the contrast and juxtaposition of the harsh surroundings on the Wisconsin frontier and communications with the sophistication in Boston and Europe. They also noted the book was soundly researched as well as high in production value in terms of the design and graphics. The academic scholarship was outstanding, as well as the evident research methodology. In recommending this book for the award, the judges encourage a larger readership of the deserving book.

The Greatest Story in Sports: Green Bay Packers 1919-2019, by Cliff Christl, published by KCI Sports Publishing

EnlargeThe Greatest Story in Sports Green Bay Packers Cliff Christl


This four-volume book tells the remarkable story of the first century of the Packers with precise detail. Packers team historian Cliff Christl dispels the myths and sets the record straight, all while transporting you through key moments in the most historic franchise in sports. The book features never-before-published photos, stories and excerpts. From the team's humble beginnings to the triumphs and heartbreaks over the next 100 years, "The Greatest Story in Sports" takes readers on a journey through fan-favorite stories, untold anecdotes, and countless memorable moments.

The author has undertaken and produced the definitive history of the Green Bay Packers. This four-volume book spans one hundred years of history and will act as a reference for years to come. The beautifully designed guide to the Green Bay Packer's history is also a history of the state of Wisconsin. The judging committee recommends this book for the award as it represents an area of Wisconsin history accessible to all, rather than solely history academics.

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