SEMO professor gets state honor

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bonnie Stepenoff, history professor at Southeast Missouri State University, recently received a prestigious state honor for her book on historical Ste. Genevieve.

The Missouri Conference on History Book Award is given annually to the best historical book written by a Missouri resident. The award comes with a cash prize of $300.

Stepenoff's book "From French Community to Missouri Town: Ste. Genevieve in the Nineteenth Century," was published by the University of Missouri Press in 2006. The award was presented during an April 20 ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

"They gave out the award during the luncheon. It was completely a surprise. They just sprang it on me," Stepenoff said.

Stepenoff says her next project will take her in a completely new direction. She's planning to write a history of homeless boys living in St. Louis during the 19th century.

"It's pretty interesting. They sold newspapers, shined shoes; they were pickpockets, orphans, runaways," she said.

The allure of the city was great for many young men in the 1800s.

"It was partly because of industrialization. Young boys would leave the farms and head to cities and, of course, St. Louis is the Gateway to the West, so many passed through there," she said.

Stepenoff has taught at Southeast Missouri State since 1993. This is her first award for a full-length book.

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