This award is given annually by Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site to a woman who has made a contribution to the history of the Hudson Valley through education, promotion, or preservation. The honor was inspired by Martha Washington, an outstanding woman in history who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband, General George Washington, during the last days of the Revolutionary War.
Ruth Piwonka is the Municipal Historian for the Village and Town of Kinderhook and sits on the Village of Kinderhook Historic Preservation Commission. For over 50 years she has been an independent curator and researcher regarding Dutch heritage and material culture in the Hudson Valley.
Piwonka shares her research, scholarship and documentation through her association with the Columbia County Historical Society along with being a published author and a mentor to students, colleagues and volunteers.
Piwonka’s history of volunteering is extensive. She was the first Director of the Columbia Land Conservancy, where she fought for the preservation of agricultural land and open space in Columbia County. She is a Fellow and current Treasurer of the Jacob Leisler Institute, an Elected Fellow of the Holland Society of America and an Elected Fellow of the New York Academy of History, to name just a few of her ongoing affiliations.
Due to Covid-19, Piwonka received her award at her home in Kinderhook, NY earlier this month. She will be honored at the 2021 Women’s History Month program, The General’s Lady, which will take place at Washington’s Headquarters in March.
Washington’s Headquarters is soliciting nominations for the 2021 Martha Washington Woman of History Award.Guidelines and an application can be found online, or by calling (845) 562-1195.
Photo of Ruth Piwonka provided.