Ernie Thode, manager of Local History and Genealogy at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta, Ohio, has received the 2009 Harvey Harsh Award, the highest honor in Palatines to America.
"This prestigious award has gone to a man who possesses talent that few of us could ever hope to match," said Anne Rodick of the awards committee, who announced the award.
Palatines to America is a national German genealogy society that encourages researching German-speaking ancestors. The award, which was first given in 1982, is limited to one award per year.
Thode has been a member of Pal-Am since 1976 and has attended meetings every year in Ohio as well as in other states, including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. He takes books and maps to these meetings in order to answer questions, to find even the smallest villages on German and Swiss maps, and, when asked, to translate German script in basic German documents.
Thode served as program chairman for the OH Pal-Am Chapter for 14 years. Since 2000, he has written a column, "Ask Ernie," in The Palatine Immigrant, a quarterly journal. Pal-Am members submit questions about researching German ancestors and Thode refers to Web sites, gazetteers, atlases and other research books to answer them in depth and at length. He has often written other articles for The Immigrant.