The Russell P. Strange Award was established by Darrell and Priscilla Strange Matthews in memory of Priscilla's father, noted scholar, educator, past vice president and life-long member of the Illinois State Historical Society. The award is presented annually to one author in recognition of his/her significant contribution to the study of Illinois history. It is presented at the Annual Awards Banquet in April of 2017, together with a cash award authorized by the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society.
- 2012: Gillum Ferguson for Illinois and the War of 1812
- 2011: Robert A Bray for Reading with Lincoln
- 2008: Robert Mazrim for The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln
- 2007: Louise W. Knight for Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy
Colonel Russell P. Strange was born August 6, 1922, in Granite City, Illinois. He graduated from High School in Madison in 1940 and entered the University of Illinois that fall. When World War II broke out, he was the first Air Force Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet to volunteer for military service . He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942, attended Officer Candidate School, and was commissioned on January 19, 1943. He married Doris Smith of Council Grove, Kansas, in December 1943.
During the war, he served as a training officer, and from 1945 - 1952, he continued working in the Air Force in Washington, D.C. while attending the Air Tactical School (graduating in 1949) and resuming his education at the University of Maryland (graduating with a degree in American History in 1952).