Our Work

Current Awardees

The Humanities Awards

Each fall the LEH seeks public nominations for six of the Humanities Awards—Humanities Book of the Year, Humanities Documentary Film of the Year, Museum Exhibition of the Year or Digital Humanities of the Year (biennial awards), Light Up for Literacy, Documentary Photographer of the Year (formerly the Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography), and Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities.

The Humanist of the Year, Champion of Culture, and Chair’s Award for Institutional Support are nominated and chosen in-house by members of the LEH board of directors. 

Awards in the publicly nominated categories are selected by special committees made up of local experts in the field and LEH staff and board members. Recipients are announced at the beginning of the next year.  


Humanist of the Year

Awarded in partnership with the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and given to an individual for invaluable, lasting, and recognized contributions to Louisiana’s cultural landscape

2024 Humanist of the Year

Dickie Landry

A native of Cecilia, Louisiana, in St. Martin Parish, Dickie Landry is a true Renaissance man whose talents range from documentary photography and abstract painting to saxophone-playing and composing. During his 60-year career, Landry has used his camera to document New York’s art scene, opened exhibitions for artist Robert Rauschenberg, and performed as part of the legendary Philip Glass Ensemble. He is, as 64 Parishes columnist Alison Fensterstock writes, a “boundary-pushing creator.”

He’s also a connector, someone who has used his network to promote and elevate his fellow Louisiana musicians to the national and international spotlight. He helped organize a concert for Clifton Chenier at Carnegie Hall in the 1970s and connected Paul Simon with Terrance Simien for his zydeco-tinged, award-winning 1986 “Graceland” album. In 2018, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Now in his 80s, Landry continues to perform, create, and push boundaries.

Chair’s Award for Institutional Support

Awarded in recognition of significant financial or programmatic support of the LEH’s mission and programs

2024 Chair’s Award for Institutional Support

Lamar Family Foundation

The Charles Lamar Family Foundation supports a multitude of strong and dynamic nonprofit organizations that address important aspects of community life and effect positive change in their communities.

Since learning about the work of the LEH after attending an LEH Board Outreach party in 2019, the Lamar Family Foundation has made contributions totaling $97,551. These funds have provided critical support for Prime Time Family Reading programs in the Greater Baton Rouge Area.

Champion of Culture Award

Awarded to individuals or organizations that have made a lasting mark through their support and promotion of Louisiana’s cultural resources

2024 Champion of Culture Award

Nick Mueller

Dr. Nick Mueller is a military historian and former University of New Orleans administrator who, along with historian Stephen Ambrose, helped create the National D-Day Museum. That museum became the National World War II Museum and is now one of the country’s top museum destinations. Mueller served as the museum’s founding president/CEO and, during his 19-year tenure, oversaw much of its expansion from a single 19th-century-warehouse structure to a six-acre campus that welcomes more than 700,000 visitors per year.

Documentary Photographer of the Year

Honors documentary photographers whose work captures Louisiana’s history, culture, and/or peoples.

2024 Documentary Photographer of the Year

Ben Depp

National Geographic Explorer Ben Depp captures Louisiana’s changing coast from a paraglider, forcing the viewer to shift their perspective along with his.

Depp’s photography has been funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. His work has been published in Smithsonian MagazineScientific American, and National Geographic as well as in Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast, a compilation of Depp’s work published in January 2023 by University Press of Mississippi.

Humanities Book of the Year

Awarded to the book that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana writers

2024 Humanities Book of the Year

The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South by Elizabeth Ellis 

In The Great Power of Small Nations, Dr. Elizabeth Ellis, an enrolled citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, tells the story of the smaller Native American Nations that shaped the growth of colonial Louisiana and continue to shape the Gulf South today.

Humanities Documentary Film of the Year

Awarded to the documentary film that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers

2024 Humanities Documentary Film of the Year

 The Precipice
directed by Ben Johnson and produced by Linda Midgett

Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s The Precipice follows the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe in the Terrebonne Basin as they work to preserve their culture and language while fighting for federal recognition and struggling against the realities of climate change.

Light Up for Literacy Award

Honors individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to literacy efforts in the state

Presented in partnership with the State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book

2024 Light Up for Literacy Award

Jane Wolfe

Jane Wolfe is the founder of Eat and Read at Melba’s, one of New Orleans’s most notable nonprofit literacy programs. Through Eat and Read at Melba’s, Jane has encouraged a love of reading by distributing over 20,000 free books to her customers and hosting readings, discussions, and book‐signings that connect New Orleanians with world‐renowned authors and educators.

Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities Award

Honors citizens who have supported and been involved in public appreciation of issues central to the humanities

2024 Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities Awards

Freddi Williams Evans

Freddi Williams Evans is an author and scholar recognized for her scholarship on Congo Square, a landmark of African and African American culture in New Orleans. In 2017–2018, Evans co-chaired the Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade to Louisiana.

Museum Exhibition of the Year

Awarded biannually in even-numbered years, the Museum Exhibition of the Year Award recognizes an exhibition held during the prior two calendar years that brought new insights to our understanding of the state, its artists and/or its history.

2024 Museum Exhibition of the Year

Creole New Orleans, Honey!

The Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo’s Creole New Orleans, Honey! showcased the work of Andrew LaMar Hopkins, exploring notions of Creole identity while challenging the definition of the word.

Click here for a full list of past Humanities Awards winners.