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Author: Scott A. Merriman
Title: Non-sports Halls of Fame
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
May 2005

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Source: Non-sports Halls of Fame
Scott A. Merriman

vol. 8, no. 1, May 2005
Article Type: Site Review

Non-sports Halls of Fame

Scott A. Merriman, Ph.D.

University of Kentucky

This column focuses on various Halls of Fame which are not sports related. Most people tend to think of Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame) or Canton (National Football Hall of Fame) when they hear the term "Hall of Fame," or just a mythical Hall of Fame with the best in whatever field. However, there are a lot of "Halls of Fame" out there. As a matter of fact, a "Google"™ search turns up 9,000,000 hits. In this column, I profile ten interesting ones.

1. Inventors Hall of Fame

This hall honors various inventors from across various eras of history and different disciplines. It focuses mostly on inventors who spent their lives in the United States. Among the inductees in the 2005 class are Les Paul, who revolutionized the electric guitar, and Glenn Seaborg, who isolated plutonium. The Inventors Hall of Fame is run by Invent Now, and is located in Akron, Ohio.

2. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland, Ohio, provides a history of rock and roll, honors major contributors and has exhibits that allow one to explore rock and roll in more depth. The site includes a "today in Rock" segment, which allows one to take a look back on any given day. Among this year's inductees are U2, Buddy Guy and the Pretenders, and among the current exhibits are "Music of Ohio" and "Supremes gowns" (which focuses on some of the dresses worn by the Supremes, a group which is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

3. Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Nashville, Tennessee and has a combination of permanent and rotating exhibits. Among its current exhibits are "Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945 – 1970," which looks at the interaction of rhythm and blues and country in Nashville, and among its upcoming exhibits is one on Earl Scruggs. Its permanent exhibit is called "Sing Me Back Home: A Journey through Country Music." For historians and researchers, there is a an archives and library there (open by appointment) which covers country music, of course, but also covers a wide variety of other types of music, including, to list just a few, rock, rhythm & blues and folk.

4. National Aviation Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame is located in Dayton Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers, who are widely recognized as the fathers of flight. This hall combines the traditional list of honorees with a history of flight and lesson plans to help teachers use aviation to teach science and math and to retain student interest. Among the honorees in the 2005 class are a World War II fighting ace and military innovator, two leading women aviators and an aviation engineer. Short biographies of each person previously enshrined are included here, along with ways to support the hall.

5. National Women's Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame, established in 1969, focuses on the achievements of women, and is in Seneca Falls, New York, which is widely considered to be the birthplace of the modern women's rights movement. The hall, as indicated by the "national" in its name, only selects American citizens. The inductees can be nominated by anyone, but then are selected for induction by a panel of judges. Among this year's inductees are Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Florence Allen (first woman to be on a US Circuit Court of Appeals) and Betty Bumpers, a pioneering health advocate and former first lady of Arkansas.

6. National Radio Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame honors those famous in radio. Among the 2005 inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame are Bob Edwards and Walter Winchell. Edwards was the host of NPR's All Things Considered for over twenty-five years, and Walter Winchell was a famous news broadcaster for nearly thirty years. Among other well known radio figures in the hall are Garrison Keillor, Orson Welles and Larry King. Programs are also eligible for induction, and the program inducted include "Burns and Allen" and "Amos n' Andy." The Hall of Fame, as best can be discerned, is only a virtual entity, even though it is run out of Chicago, and it has been inducting people since 1988.

7. Computer Hall of Fame

The Computer Hall of Fame is located in La Mesa California, as part of the Computer Museum of America. Among the members of this class of 2004 are Vinton Cerf, who co-developed TCP/IP, Paul Allen, who initiated Microsoft along with Bill Gates, and John Eckert and John Mauchly, co-originators of the ENIAC, the first electronic computer. Short biographies of each member of the hall are included, along with links to more sites about them and information about how to view the museum and how to get more involved. Among the nominees for 2005 are (the inductees have not been announced yet): John Barlow, who helped to start the Electronic Frontier Foundation, William Gibson, who created the term "cyberspace," and Larry Roberts, who helped to design the ARPANET.

8. Agricultural Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame is located in Bonner Springs, Kansas, which is just west of Kansas City. The Hall has been inducting people since 1984, and has a wide variety of individuals in it, ranging from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington Carver to more modern individuals such as Dr. Henry A. Wallace, who served as Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President during the Franklin Roosevelt administration. The last class in this Hall of Fame appears to have been inducted in 1998. The Hall of Fame is associated with the National Agricultural Center whose goal is to educate about agriculture.

9. Automotive Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame is located in Dearborn, Michigan, which is appropriate as Michigan is the birthplace of the modern auto industry and it honors those who have created automotive excellence. Among the 2004 inductees are Battista Farina, who was a leading Italian designer, and Heinz Pretcher, who invented the sunroof. The hall also picks an "Industry Leader of the Year," and this year's winner was Carlos Ghosn, who is the President of Nissan. The hall has upwards of 30,000 visitors a year, and it showcases both those involved in the past and in the present of auto making.

10. Jewish American Hall of Fame

The Jewish American Hall of Fame celebrates famous Jewish Americans. At the moment it does not have a physical home, but it was housed for thirty years at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California. The museum presents short biographies of the honorees, who range in time from the era of Columbus to the twentieth century, and range in talents from baseball (Hank Greenberg) to physics (Einstein) to music (George Gershwin). Famous places and events connected to Jewish history are also profiled.