Dr. Hubert G.H. Wilhelm earned his Ph.D., which focused on German settlement in Texas Hill Country, from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, under renowned cultural geographer, Dr. Fred B. Kniffen. Dr. Wilhelm joined the Department of Geography at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, in 1963. He continued to teach for more than 30 years at Ohio University, where he is considered the father of the Department of Geography. In addition, he was twice honored as a University Professor for his teaching excellence while at the same time conducting research on North America’s built landscape, especially the diffusion of folk buildings (houses and barns), migration and ethnic settlement patterns. His most recent publications include Barns of the Midwest, a cooperative editorial effort with Allen G. Noble, and two chapters in the two volume work, The National Road, edited by Karl Raitz. Dr. Wilhelm’s continued enthusiasm and emphasis on material culture – ethnic landscapes, barns, and other forms of vernacular architecture – have inspired many to follow in his footsteps. In fact, he has supervised graduate research for many students who went on to have illustrative careers, mostly in the private sector. He has been a long-time member of PAS: Association for the Preservation of Artifacts and Landscapes, and Dr. Wilhelm is recognized as one of today’s foremost experts on Ohio’s agricultural landscape.
Dr. Wilhelm was recognized for his contributions to our society in 1996 with the H.H. Douglas Distinguished Service Award. The Award is named in honor of the founder of the Pioneer America Society, Mr. Henry H. Douglas, and is given to an individual who has made significant contributions over the years in furthering the Society’s goals through service, teaching, publications, and/or the promotion of historic preservation.
In honor of the contributions of both Dr. Wilhelm and later his protégé, Dr. Artimus Keiffer, the Wilhelm family has generously agreed to fund and sponsor the Wilhelm-Keiffer Student Research Award which provides both undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to compete for a research award in the field of material culture studies. The first award winner was selected in 2008.