University's press produces second award-winner

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For the second year in a row a book published by the Southeast Missouri State University Press will receive the Missouri Humanities Council's Governor's Book Award.

The book, "Matthews: The Historic Adventures of a Pioneer Family," was written by Sikeston, Mo., businessman and university board of regents member Edward "Ned" Matthews III and published by the press in January 2005.

Dr. Susan Swartwout, director of the press, said the award comes as a great honor for a small university press that has only existed since 2001.

However, she wasn't surprised.

"We thought it was going to be a sure winner," Swartwout said.

Last year Morley Swingle won the award for his book "The Gold of Cape Girardeau," also published by the press.

Matthews' book tells the history of the development of Southeast Missouri using the history of the Matthews family. The family was influential in the development of the area, especially around Sikeston.

Local historians have hailed the book as a fascinating and informative history of the area. The book also gained national attention last year by winning the Fred Kniffen Award from the Pioneer America Society. The award is presented to the best-authored book on material culture in North America, and Matthews' book beat out 36 contenders published by presses at places like MIT, Cornell and Harvard.

When Matthews wrote the book he had no intention of creating an important historical work, he said. He just wanted to make a family history for future generations of Matthews.

"I've been overwhelmed and surprised by the reaction this book has received," Matthews said.

The award is given to a book that increases the historical and cultural understanding of Missouri.

Matthews will be recognized in a ceremony at the governor's mansion in Jefferson City in early October.

Swingle said Matthews is in for the experience of a lifetime.

"The pride and recognition of the fact other unbiased people have recognized that your book has merit is indescribable," Swingle said.

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