Ran Shaffner named ‘2019 Historian of the Year’

On Sat., Oct. 12, Highlander Ran Shaffner was named 2019 Historian of the Year by the North Carolina Society of Historians at its 77th Annual Awards Ceremony on the Davidson College campus. 

“For Dr. Shaffner’s mammoth contributions to researching, recording, and perpetuating North Carolina’s rich history, we, the North Carolina Society of Historians are deeply honored to be able to assign him the title of 2019 Historian of the Year,” said judges.

In Highlands Shaffner has made it his life’s work to document and immortalize Highlands’ history – its families, its enterprises, its progress and even its legends. 

Ran Shaffner accepting the 2019 Historian of the Year by the North Carolina Society of Historians at its 77th Annual Awards Ceremony on the Davidson College campus. Submitted photo.

He speaks often at events around town most notably when he is requesting the town’s blessing on a historical project he is undergoing – NC DOT markers, Legends and Lore marker, or getting areas in town designated historical districts.

Whenever he speaks about Highlands history whether to the Town Board or citizens at some gathering, one is immediately pulled into the story he tells to illustrate his cause. Since he is totally submerged in Highlands past, he easily and gleefully peppers stories of people, their families, their occupations, their homes, their escapades with little known tidbits which add a layer of color not found in most historical accounts.

He is a member of 15 historical associations, museums, preservation organizations, the vice-president and newsletter editor and webmaster for the Friends of Mountain History; and, he is a co-founder and archivist of the Highlands Historical Society.

He is the author of many pieces of work that range from books, DVDs, pictorials, newsletter articles, newspaper articles, nomination documentation for historical markers and National Register nominations.

Eleven years of research, interviews, and writing produced Heart of the Blue Ridge: Highlands, North Carolina, which Walter Evans in the N. C. Historical Review called ‘’the definitive history of Highlands, NC.” 

For all his efforts to preserve and champion history, especially that of the Highlands plateau, the North Caroliniana Society honored Shaffner with membership in 2016. 

In 2017, for his overall achievements locally, nationally and internationally, he was granted the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and now he can add 2019 Historian of the Year to his cap.

Article by Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper
Photos by Brian O’Shea

Editor’s Note: Congrats Ran, you absolutely deserve the honor.

Pictured at the top of the article is Ran Shaffner at the Moccasin War Historical Marker dedication in Highlands. To read about the dedication, click HERE. Toread about Shaffner’s efforts to recognize Mary Lapham, click HERE

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