Prescottonian Melissa Ruffner is honored with the 2003 Sharlot Hall Award for her teaching the "lore of her land," storytelling, and tour guiding that has contributed to the understanding and awareness of Arizona History.
Melissa was born into an Arizona family that has roots in Prescott that reach back to 1867. Her mother Elisabeth Ruffner received the Sharlot Hall Award in 1993. They are our first mother-daughter winners!
Melissa "has spent her life absorbing the history" of the Prescott region and Arizona in general. She has traveled extensively to research both the Ruffner family and other early Prescott families. Most notable of her publications is Prescott: A Pictorial History.
Her greatest contribution is her work as a tour guide and owner/operator of Prescott Historical Tours. In this capacity she provides walking tours in authentic Victorian costume of downtown Prescott and reflects the ambiance of this community's history. Local and national media frequently calls upon her when it comes to topics of Prescott history and her answers always include a good story. It is also in this capacity that she travels the entire southwest region speaking about the history of Yavapai County.
For the last 12 years she has been a "mainstay" of the Arizona Jamboree where she, as "official storyteller," recounts stories (tall and true) of Prescott's colorful history.
She has coordinated and taught with the Elder Hostel program and instructed at Yavapai College and Sharlot Hall Museum. Currently, she is establishing the Ruffner Family Foundation which will provide scholarships for students of history.
As one of her nominees suggested, "her ability to bring [history] to life … has been an invaluable contribution to our program" to educate the people about Prescott History.