BACK Arizona Historical Society Presents 2023 Al Mérito Awards

Arizona Historical Society Presents 2023 Al Mérito Awards

Frank Barrios, Dr. Michael M. Brescia, the Navajo County Historical Society, and Arizona Barrio Stories are all honored for their contributions to Arizona’s history as recipients of the Al Mérito Award

TEMPE, AZ  (September 29, 2023) – 


The Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is proud to recognize the recipients of the 2023 Al Mérito Awards, Frank Barrios, Dr. Michael M. Brescia, the Navajo County Historical Society, and Arizona Barrio Stories. All four Al Mérito Awards were presented during the AHS Annual Membership Meeting and 50th Anniversary Al Mérito Awards Celebration on September 29, 2023 at the Arizona Heritage Center. 

Sherry Rampy, AHS Outreach Committee Chair shared, “When we honor and celebrate the achievements of the Al Merito awardees, we are not only educated about Arizona history, but inspired. We absorb bits of their passion and humanity and by doing so, we become better people who inevitably pay it forward. Our society truly benefits from the simple act of honoring their amazing service.”

Frank Barrios was a master storyteller with a wealth of knowledge about the history of Phoenix. As his profession was in water engineering, he was instrumental in the early planning of the Central Arizona Project and the later implementation of its application to the farmers, ranchers, Indigenous nations, and the everyday citizens of our state. He also spent time volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul, the Kino Border Initiative, First Families, Pioneer Memorial and Military Cemetery, and the Arizona Historical Society.

Dr. Michael M. Brescia earned a doctorate in history from the University of Arizona, where he is now Curator of Ethnohistory in the Arizona State Museum and affiliated Professor of History. Dr. Brescia utilizes multiple strategies to integrate and promote the Arizona historical experience in his teaching, research, and public outreach: scholarly publications, museum exhibits, learning expeditions, and master classes for adult learners, among others.

The Navajo County Historical Society works to manage and protect local historical artifacts that have been involved in forming the area. In 1989, local history enthusiasts formed the Navajo County Historical Society, took over the Old Court House to turn it into a museum, and now preserve the heritage of Navajo County citizens by collecting documents, printed and published materials, photographs, paintings, artifacts, and more. Their goal is to display and tell the history of all cultures of people who have played a part in developing Navajo County and the surrounding area. 

Arizona Barrio Stories is an organization dedicated to preserving stories from the barrios (Hispanic communities). Mexicans and Mexican Americans have played a big role in the formation and organization of many Arizona cities, including Phoenix. Yet, the stories of their contributions to the state were often either left out of history books or have vanished from the historical record. Arizona Barrio Stories works to record, document, share, and preserve those stories.

The Arizona Historical Society established the Al Mérito Award in 1973 to recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions and serve as role models for preserving Arizona’s rich history. Named for the nineteenth-century award bestowed by a newly independent government of Mexico for meritorious service to the Republic, al mérito translates to for merit. Today, the Arizona Historical Society’s highest honor acknowledges meritorious service for those who preserve and celebrate Arizona history.

The Arizona Heritage Center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 1300 N. College Ave, Tempe, AZ 85288.



For media interested in scheduling an interview, please contact Marianna Touloumes at [email protected] or 480-387-5367.


Arizona Historical Society

Mission: Connecting people through the power of Arizona’s history.

Founded in 1864, the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is the state’s oldest and most prestigious historical organization, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing Arizona’s rich history. AHS operates four museums across the state–Phoenix-metro (Tempe), Tucson, Flagstaff, and Yuma. The stories of the people, places, and events that have shaped Arizona are told through museum exhibits, programs, events, publications, and outreach. The Arizona Historical Society is proud to serve as the steward of Arizona’s history. Our collections, artifacts, and manuscript holdings offer opportunities for public programming, educational outreach, and exhibitions, as well as academic and community-based research. Through publications like the Journal of Arizona History, the Arizona Historical Society promotes new research and publishes articles that add substantially to our knowledge of Arizona’s past. One of our signature programs, National History Day in Arizona is a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation, and creative expression for middle school and high school students. Membership in the Arizona Historical Society is open to anyone interested in our state’s rich history.


For additional information, visit

Arizona Historical Society Administration: 949 E. 2nd St. Tucson, AZ 85719

Arizona Historical Society