Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award

Recognizing Palm Beach County Achievement

Established in 2003, this award recognizes the achievements of individuals or organizations that have significantly contributed to preserving and sharing the history of Palm Beach County’s pioneering days. The award is named for the late Fannie James, an African American who founded and served as the first postmistress of the Jewell (now Lake Worth) Post Office, open from 1889 until 1903. Deadline for applications is March 1 of the year of the award. The winner is selected from the nominations received, judged for the historical impact, relevance, and significance of the contribution, and announced in April at the Society’s Annual Meeting.  

The inaugural Fannie James Award was presented to Laurita Collie Sharpp, granddaughter of one of West Palm Beach’s earliest black settlers, John Collie, and the daughter of one of West Palm Beach’s first black dentists, renowned community leader Dr. Warren Hale Collie. In 2002, Sharpp donated her treasured collection of photographs, diaries, and letters, chronicling over a century of her family’s history, to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. They include her grandmother’s diaries, old photographs depicting West Palm Beach life from the 1890s through the 1940s, and a letter from legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her donation, the “Collie Collection,” has preserved an integral part of Palm Beach County’s history: a rarely-seen glimpse into the lives of black pioneers who helped shape the landscape of Palm Beach County beginning in the late 19th century.


Guidelines for Nominations

Who may nominate?

Anyone interested in Palm Beach County history may identify an individual or organization that they believe is an appropriate candidate, excluding an organization of which they are an officer, member, or employee. Nominations must be submitted on forms provided by the HSPBC, and anonymous nominations will not be accepted. Please download an application here.

Who is eligible for nominations?

The goal of this award is to recognize individuals or organizations for their contributions to the history of our county, those that have worked to preserve, promote or enrich our history for future generations. Individuals must live in Palm Beach County, and organizations must serve Palm Beach County. 

How many nominees will be honored with the award?

Generally, the award goes annually to a single individual or organization. However, if circumstances warrant, more than one individual or organization may be honored in one year.


Nominations for this award will be made through a public nomination process. Those making nominations should not inform nominees that their names have been submitted for consideration. All nominations remain confidential property of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.


If you would like to submit a nomination, please download an application here and submit it directly to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.