James Douthat of Signal Mountain was recently honored with an Award of Distinction by the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Douthat was selected based on "a lifetime of devotion to the preservation of East Tennessee's history through the publication of numerous historical and genealogical works and service to various regional historical and genealogical boards and commissions," according to the certificate presented to him by the East Tennessee Historical Society.
"If we don't know where we're from, we have no direction for where to go," said Douthat of his attraction to researching histrory. "Researching our past helps give us a foundation for our future."
Owner of Mountain Press and author of numerous books written about the region as well as vice president of programs for the Chattanooga Area Historical Commission, Douthat was recommended for the award by the Signal Mountain Genealogical Society.
The regional historical groups for which Douthat currently serves as an officer are the Delta Genealogical Society of Rossville, Ga., the Signal Mountain Genealogical Society and the Chattanooga Area Historical Society.
As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogist, he is one of only a handful of persons across the United States recognized for his work in the field. Through his company Mountain Press he has distributed more than 2,200 titles to libraries and individuals.
Since the age of 17, he has written around 600 volumes in the historical and genealogical field, including several full-length books, most of which pertain to East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and West Virginia. His book "Along the Pike" focuses on the history of Walden's Ridge up to the time of the establishment of the town of Signal Mountain in 1919.
He said he became interested in history and genealogy through his grandfather, who was very into the subjects himself and would often take Douthat along during the course of his research.
Among Douthat's duties as vice president of the Chattanooga Area Historical Commission is the planning of special events and programs. He said he is currently working on arranging a short trip out of town as well as a tour of the Cravens House this fall.