Lansdale Historical Society has tapped a Lower Salford Township author and Mennonite historian as its recipient of the 2013 Edwin G. Holl Historic Achivement Award.
John L. Ruth, 83, will be bestowed the honor at a public April 9 annual Lansdale Historical Society banquet at William Penn Inn in Lower Gwynedd.
"John Ruth’s contributions to our region’s history are sometimes understated,” said Lansdale Historical Society President Dick Shearer. "They shouldn’t be, because his books and essays, films, lectures and wealth of background knowledge have enabled so many of us to appreciate the faith and traditions of the Mennonite community."
Ruth's work, Shearer said, has helped preserve Mennonite history and foster understanding in the North Penn area.
"It is important to remember that, until the post-World War II building boom, the countryside west of Lansdale was dominated by Mennonite farms, some of which have been passed down through the families," he said. "Yet, for years, many of their beliefs and the stories behind them were a mystery to others. John has brilliantly shared this rich heritage with us and helped preserve it for future generations."
Shearer said the Holl Award is given annually to a person, organization or business for its efforts to preserve and protect the region's historical heritage for future generations.
Holl was a former state Senator, of which Lansdale was part of his district.
Ruth has not only preserved the historical culture of Mennonites, but also went beyond the Indian Valley in recording the lifestyles and mores of the Amish and the Hutterites.
Ruth is the author of "Forgiveness: A Legacy of the West Nickel Mines Amish School." The novel was written in the wake of the 2006 shooting that left five children dead.
Ruth is also a filmmaker; he produced documentaries on PBS and for CBS's "60 Minutes" in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ruth's historical passion has rubbed off on his sons. Jay Ruth has partnered with his father on many video projects, and Philip Ruth has authored numeorus histories of local towns, such as Upper Gwynedd and Hatfield townships.
Recently, Ruth has zoned his interests in on another type of local culture: Native Americans.
Ruth lives with his wife, Roma, on his boyhood Lower Salford farm. Ruth is a Mennonite pastor for more than 60 years. He has also taught English and American Literature in the United States and Germany. Ruth holds a doctorate from Harvard University.
Ruth is also credited with the success of the Mennonite Heritage Center in Lower Salford, of which the library has been named in his honor.
Reservations for the public banquet can be made at www.lansdalehistory.org or by calling (215) 855-1872. The deadline for reservations is April 4.