Hickory – The North Carolina Society of Historians recently presented their “Award of Excellence” to two volumes on the history of Hickory, while naming Richard Eller the “2021 Historian of the Year,” during its annual awards ceremony.
Eller was principal author for Redhawk Publication’s Hickory:Then& Now project, in connection with the City of Hickory’s Sesquicentennial in 2020. “I wrote a full history of the city, but when the narrative got too big for the coffee-table book’s page count, we had to cut the early history of Hickory,” said Eller about the scope of the project. “However, it has been published separately as Hickory: Then & Now: The Complete History.” Both books were cited by the NC Society of Historians as valuable “toward the preservation and perpetuation of North Carolina history.” The hard-cover book includes photography by students from the CVCC’s photography program, headed by Clayton Joe Young that present historical sites from both a past and present perspective, along with a narrative covering city history from 1970 to the present.
Eller was also recognized as “Historian of the Year” for his contributions to state history in a variety of subjects, including published writings and documentaries on Piedmont Airlines, the 1944 Polio Epidemic, and the Untouchables, a forthcoming documentary on Ridgeview’s 1964 football team that achieved a perfect season (unscored upon) on their way to the state championship. Eller also produced a documentary series for Charter Communications called Back Then…, episodes of which have aired on national television.
Of the honor, Maxine McCall, president of the Board of Directors of the NC Society of Historians noted, “we are delighted to recognize Richard for his work in history. His published works and videos are of exceptional quality.” Eller has been a past winner of Society awards for his earlier efforts.
Currently, Eller is finishing principal writing on two volumes. The first, Nimble and Tenacious: The History of Catawba Valley Community College will soon be available to mark the 60th anniversary of the college’s first graduating class in 1962. The second is entitled Industry in the Wood: The History of Furniture in Western North Carolina. It follows the rise, fall and rebirth of an important economic force in the region.
Eller has contributed a historical perspective to a variety of outlets including WFAE’s FAQ City podcast and the Western NC Historical Association’s recent presentation on public health. His current outlets for talking history include a weekly column in Focus Newspaper, past and upcoming articles for Foothill’s Digest, and a monthly discussion on the furniture industry at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library in Hickory. He will also serve as a participant in Redhawk Publication’s new podcast, Red Pub Pod, which debuted this spring. The final version of his documentary on the Untouchables will be screened during Catawba County Juneteenth events. The showing is scheduled for June 19th in Drendel Auditorium at Hickory’s Salt Block.