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Press Release: State Historical Society Presents Annual Awards to Illinois "Best...

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Press Release: State Historical Society Presents Annual Awards to Illinois "Best...

Press Release: State Historical Society Presents Annual Awards to Illinois "Best of the Best"

2015 ISHS Annual Awards
Best in Illinois history awards presented at Old State Capitol

On Saturday, April 25, the Illinois State Historical Society hosted its 116th annual meeting and presented its “best of the best” Illinois history awards to individuals, organizations, publishers, and exhibitors around the state.

The event was held at the historic Old State Capitol in Springfield, with a luncheon served in Foundation Hall and the awards presented afterward in the House of Representative Chambers.

“What an incredible assortment of nominations,” said ISHS Executive Director William Furry, noting that this year’s entries represented the depth and breadth of Prairie State history. “The anniversaries of the Eastland disaster, World War I, and numerous other commemorations have inspired the historical community to retell our state’s stories, and these reflections have rewarded us all with outstanding projects.”

Among the presentations were four “Lifetime Achievement” awards honoring the work of citizen/historians who have made significant contributions to their communities and to the state. Receiving Lifetime Achievement” awards were R. Eden Martin of Wilmette, Illinois; Kathryn Harris of Springfield; William Daniel Wilson of Albers; and Mark Sorensen of Decatur.

The Society also recognized Debra Liu as this year’s Olive Foster Teacher of Year. Ms. Liu, a social studies teacher for 18 years at Solomon School in Chicago, has been a participant in the Chicago and Illinois history fairs for 14 years, and continues to engage her students in historical enquiry and to enrich social studies programs at all levels. ($1,000 cash prize.)

The 2015 winner of the Verna Ross Orndorff Illinois history scholarship is Jessica Winter of Mowequa, a student at Pana High School, for her essay “Abraham Lincoln: A Congressman of the Prairie State” ($1000 scholarship).

The 2015 Harry E. Pratt Award for outstanding article printed in the 2014 Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society was given to Suellen Hoy for her article “Chicago Working Women’s Struggle for a Shorter Day, 1908-1911” ($400 prize.)

The 2015 Malkovich Award for Young Museum Professional was presented to Anne Moseley, Assistant Director of the Lincoln Heritage Museum in Lincoln, Illinois. (This prize comes with a stipend to attend a professional museum conference in the Midwest).

2015 Annual Awards

Nominee: Clint Cargile, Five-Mile Spur Line: A Railroad History of Sycamore, Illinois
Category: Publications Scholarly
Nominator: Sue Breeze
Award: Certificate of Excellence

“125+ years ago, DeKalb and Sycamore were locked in a heated race over which town would bring the first rail service to the county. When DeKalb secured the first railroad, Sycamore’s town leaders built their own five-mile spur line to connect their town to the main line at Corland, linking Sycamore to Chicago. Clint Cargile’s history of the Five-Mile Spur Line puts the Sycamore spur into its historical context, and shares the stories of how the railroad touched everyday life in and around Sycamore. This is good, solid local history.”

Nominee: Earl Halbe, A Question of Loyalty.
Nominated by Steve Thompson.
Category: Special project/Play.
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“Creating, compelling approach to a complex local history topic, with great juxtaposition of loyalty to country vs. loyalty to a lover. Such productions are immensely important, offering local history enthusiasts an opportunity to revisit significant events in regional history and bringing new and insightful interpretations into the public discussion. Overall, this is an excellent community effort to tell a little known- story in Illinois history, and it deserves recognition for awakening interest in the Charleston Riot.”

The Okawville Times. Garry and Debby Stricker, editors.
Nominated by Don and Cindy Middendorf.
Category: Ongoing periodical.
Award: Superior Achievement
The Okawville Times series of newspapers articles on historic buildings, first in Okawville and then throughout Washington County, engaged readers in local history and culture and told the stories of the people who built, lived, and worked in these businesses and homes past and present. The articles are of primary interest to people living in the newspaper circulation area, but I would recommend them as a potential source for students of cultural history, especially the reminiscences of one-room schoolhouses.”

Nominee: Geoff Partlow, America’s Deadliest Twister: The Tri-State Tornado of 1925
Category: Books Scholarly
Nominator: Lynanne Page, SIU Press
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“This book follows the trail of the 1925 tornado in southern Illinois and uses interviews, newspaper accounts, and some secondary sources. It is very readable and full of moving anectdotal stories. Partlow does a serviceable job placing this Old-Testament-like natural disaster in the context of southern Illinois’s history of vice (bootlegging, labor unrest, etc.), and it was a nice surprise to see time spent on the aftermath of the story, with discussions of meteorology and technology. This is a very solid effort.”

Nominee: Treasures of the Lincoln Library
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein
Category: Book, other.
Nominator: Lynanne Page, Southern Illinois University Press
Award: Superior Achievement
“This beautiful, treasure-filled book is a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Illinois State Historical Library (now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). It showcases not only the famed collection of Lincoln artifacts the library has acquired over the years, but reveals the documents, maps, photographs, and significant effects that tell the larger Illinois story. Although nothing beats a tour of this world-class library, this book will certainly whet your appetite for the treasures that await you in Springfield.”

Nominee: Graham Peck (producer and director), Stephen Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy, a video documentary.
Category: Special Projects
Nominator: Graham Peck, Department of History, St. Xavier University
Award: Superior Achievement
“This well-produced, historically accurate, and badly needed video tells the story of one of America’s—and certainly one of Illinois’—most charismatic and significant political leaders. Not only does Mr. Peck give us a new portrait of Douglas to ponder, he reminds us that Douglas, though on the wrong side of history, represents the essence of political discourse and American diplomacy during the nation’s most pivotal and tragic era.”

Nominee: “Over There: Grayslake in the Great War”
Grayslake Heritage Center/Grayslake Historical Society
Category: Exhibitions
Nominator: David Oberg, Grayslake Heritage Center
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“A timely exhibit that recognizes the 100th anniversary of the starting of World War I. A principal focus is on the letters written home by soldiers from Grayslake, which provided an important education component for engaging local students on the local impact of major international events. This well-planned and implemented exhibit could serve as a model for others. Impressive and deserving of recognition.”

Ann Lousin
Nominator, John Marshall Law School.
Category: Ongoing columns published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
1. “Restorative justice: A kinder, gentler, and better way?”
2. “Just vote no on two flawed amendments”
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“These well considered and thoroughly researched articles make complex issues understandable, not only to law practitioners today but historians in future. They are a model for what law columnists should do and are a valuable service for future historians.”

Nominee: Betty Carlson Kay, “The True Story of Mary Lincoln” & “Three Illinois Women in the Civil War”
Category: Special Projects

Nominator: Carol Patterson, Librarian Oswego Schools
Award: Award of Merit.
“Very admirable, both in her choice of audience (schoolchildren with little exposure to history) and her choice of compelling Illinois women.”

Nominee: Beverly Chubat, Quarterly Journal: Chicago Jewish History.
Category: Ongoing Periodicals
Nominator: Chicago Jewish Historical Society
Award: Superior Achievement
“This 16-page periodical features well-written, educational, and sophisticated articles by knowledgeable authors. The layout is pleasant and very professional, and the periodical also includes “research inquiries” to help and promote various levels of scholarship. The variety of contributing writers brings fresh insight to the many different subjects covered.”

Nominee: Carl M. Adams, Nance: Trials of the 1st Slave Freed by A. Lincoln
Publications: Other
Nominator: Carl M. Adams
Award: Award of Merit
“This book and author should be commended for new and original research and for doing well with the facts. A very well-illustrated book for young readers.”

Nominee: Center for History, Wheaton
Category: Educational Programs
Nominator: Alberta Adamson
Award: Superior Achievement
“Heartbreak—Heroism—Healing, Personal stories from the Eastland Disaster”
“This timely exhibit anticipated the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Eastland disaster. Filled with personal stories and artifacts from victims and survivor, this exhibit is both engaging and compelling, and are models of excellence, demonstrating the highest standards while making the most of limited resources.”

Nominee: Christopher Robert Reed, Knock at the Door of Opportunity: Black Migration to Chicago, 1900-1919
Category: Publication, Scholarly
Nominator: Lynanne Page, SIU Press
Award: Superior Achievement
“A well-written book discussing the transition years of black Chicago, from the old settlers to the start of the great migration. A must-read for any researcher of this era, emphasizing agency, fluidity, and responsiveness in African-American housing, politics, business, religion, and protest in Chicago. The book covers a very significant but under-reported part of Illinois history. It might make my top 10 over the last decade.”

Nominee: Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum
Category: Non-book materials, Ongoing Periodical
“Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association Newsletter”
Nominator: Linda Ruholl
Award: Award of Merit
“A fresh, clear newsletter distinguished by its readability and thoroughness. Includes many useful items such as calendar, photos, mission statement and contact info. Demonstrates this organization is active, vibrant, and engaged with the community. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved without an expensive budget and with a reasonable level of non-expert expertise.”

Nominee: Ferenc Morton Szasz SAAZ), Lincoln and Religion
Category: Scholarly Publication
Nominator: Lynanne Page
Award: Superior Achievement
“A short, concise summary of Lincoln’s religious background and beliefs. The author argues convincingly that Lincoln’s religious was an evolving belief with antecedents in the frontier Baptist world. Like the Gettysburg Address, this book will be known for its brevity and succinctness, yet also for its quality. This book is a most rewarding effort for the scholar, buff, dabbler, layperson, and student, offering fresh perspectives on the diversity of American society, civil religion, and Lincoln’s religion in the pre-White-House years.”

Nominee: Jeffrey Hegelson, Crucibles of Black Empowerment: Chicago’s Neighborhood Politics from the New Deal to Harold Washington
Category: Scholarly Books
Nominator: Rodney Powell, University of Chicago Press
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“A good tale of black liberalism and activism in Chicago, enhanced greatly by the author’s knowledge of the literary community and of organized labor, the churches, and the underworld—all highly commendable. A good history of the New Deal years, too with numerous stories and examples of institutions helping tell the history of the liberal, black, self-help movement in Chicago.”

Nominee: “The Emergence of Modern Joliet: Art, Industry, and Urbanization”
Joliet Area Historical Museum
Category: Exhibition
Nominator: Heather Bigeck
Award: Superior Achievement
“An exemplary collaboration between university classes and a local museum. The display of historic artwork of the area next to contemporary scenes of Joliet was a nice way to show change over time and integrate collections from Lewis University. The promotion, marketing and outreach efforts of the Museum staff to build audiences for this exhibit are noteworthy too, making excellent use of well-established media and social media outlets to engage local citizens. All in all, a compelling and engaging collaboration.”

Nominee: Joseph R. Fornieri, Abraham Lincoln: Philosopher Statesman
Category: Scholarly Books
Nominator: Lynanne Page, SIU Press
Award: Superior Achievement
“The author clearly states in his introduction what he plans to explain in clear, understandable and economical language. Fornieri contends that Lincoln was a ‘Philosopher Statesman’ in whom political thought and action were united. His purpose is to reveal Lincoln’s political genius in terms of the traditional moral vision as defined by philosophical thinkers such Saint Thomas Aquinas. Truly a book from which scholars can learn but that general readers can enjoy.”

Nominee: Lawrence County Historical Society
“George Bopp: A Fallen Officer Project”
Category: Special Projects
Nominator: Donna Burton, Director LCHS
Award: Superior Achievement
“An excellent project showing us that history always has relevance to the times we live in. George Bopp’s contribution to national, state, and local history went unrecognized for more than a century. This project is more than the sum of its parts, making many connections to a forgotten history. The logistics and execution of this project followed the correct steps and resulted in some very special recognition for George Bopp. Outstanding work on a limited budget.”

Nominee: Lawrence County Historical Society
Category: Best Website
Nominator: Donna Burton, Director, LCHS
Award: Superior Achievement
“Lawrence County Historical Society’s new website does an excellent job housing, categorizing, and highlighting what is significant to the diverse rural heritage of Lawrence County and its place in Illinois history. Especially appreciated are the society’s attempts to document the importance of rural schools and ‘Little Africa’ from the county’s past. A very fine website, one small historical societies would do well to imitate.”

Nominee: Lawrence County Historical Society
Category: Special Projects
Nominator: Donna Burton, Director, LCHS
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“A very successful public program, obviously of great interest in the community. The exhibit expanded the historical knowledge of the subject and made it more than just a fashion show. Creative additions of original photos and an exhibit of memorabilia added greatly to the subject and its appeal. The engaging of high school models was certainly a positive way to expose the next generation to the importance of local history in a fun and civic way.”

Nominee: Margaret Garb, Freedom’s Ballot: African American Political Struggles in Chicago from Abolition to the Great Migration
Category: Scholarly Book
Nominator: Rodney Powell, University of Chicago Press
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“A compelling portrait of three generations of African American activists engaged in political struggles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Chicago. It is a remarkable view of the demography and of status struggles. Garb reveals the struggle between two powerful Black clergymen, whose encounter may remind us of the prominent Black clergy who fought Martin Luther King in the 1960s. An excellent, easy-to-read book about Black Chicago’s rise from before the Civil War to the Great Migration.”

Nominee: Pope County Historical Society & Richard Kuenneke, “They Will Endure: Pope County, Illinois—A History, 1797-1937,” A video documentary.
Category: Multimedia Production, Public Programming
Nominator: Herbert Russell
Award: Superior Achievement

“A stunning DVD project that presents 140 years of local history in a vivid compelling way. Shows very high production values, mixing outstanding nature videos, maps, antique photos, art, and interviews with a wide range of historians and residents. Although this is the history of a specific small county, this video could be used for any Illinois history class as it does an excellent job of explaining early settlement, and provides a clear understanding of the relationship between a population and its environment in the cycles of prosperity, decline, and possible renaissance.”

Nominee: Robert R. McCormick Museum at Cantigny
“Robert R. McCormick: Innovator, Journalist, and Philanthropist”
Category: Public Programming, Exhibition
Nominator: Diane Gutenkauf (GOO-ten-kof)
Award: Superior Achievement
“This exhibit was well planned, on budget, and was evaluated by visitor experience. An excellent outreach effort within a very small space.”

Nominee: Sangamon County Historical Society and Mike Kienzler
Nominator: Mary Alice Davis and Vicki Whitaker
Award: Superior Achievement
“This is perhaps the wave of the future in historical writing. It has energized the local historical society and spilled over into a weekly newspaper column. This is a great example of crowd-source encyclopedia, and while not original in its design, it is a very important contribution to the history of Sangamon County.”

Nominee: Stan Banash, Roadside History of Illinois
Category: Book, other
Nominator: Anne Iverson, Mountain Press
Award: Superior Achievement
“A straight-forward, well-written and informative travel book that includes many helpful extras—a history timeline, interesting factoids, a complete index, and an extensive bibliography. This is the most indispensible history book, reference book, and travel guide I have come across in Illinois. I want to have this book with me whenever I explore the Prairie State.”

Nominee: Genevieve G. McBride & Stephen R. Byers, Dear Mrs. Griggs: Women Readers Pour Out their Hearts from the Heartland
Category: Publications, Scholarly
Nominator: Marquette University Press
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“This is a very good reflection of social history in the Midwest, documenting 50 years of advice letters to the lovelorn, from which one may gain further historical understanding of women’s everyday lives, especially working-class women.”

Nominee: Ted Karamanski and Eileen McMahon, Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History
Category: Russell P. Strange Memorial Book of the Year
Nominator: Samara Rafert, Ohio University Press
“It is hard to imagine a better work on Chicago during the Civil War and its long-term effects. It analyzes the many interrelationships between Irish immigrants, African-Americans, the Democratic Party and the Labor Movement. Women’s history is well covered, as is black history. The book uses seldom-seen as well as newly uncovered sources, and each chapter provides a clear overview of its focus and to the numerous primary sources comprising the various “eyewitness to history.”

Nominee: The Charleston Riot Committee, Ann W. Hinrichs, Chair
Category: Special Projects/Public Programing
Nominator: Kit Morice, Coles County Historical Society
Award: Superior Achievement
“Everything about this event is first rate. It is wonderful to see a town come together to remember a key moment in its history, with both popular programs that appeal to the wider community and to scholars. The re-enactment, play, and presentations were all wonderful. This project shows us that in our current moment in history, there is much we can still learn about events such as the Charleston Riot.”

Nominee: The Emergence of Modern Joliet: Art, Industry, Urbanization
Category: Publication, exhibit booklet
Nominator: Christine Morrow
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“A beautifully designed booklet to accompany a creative exhibition based on historic artworks and a significant tool collection. An excellent example of using historic art and artifacts, modern photography, and historiography to present a fresh approach to history. Overall, an excellent, well-written booklet providing just the right amount of information for the casual reader.”

Nominee: Thomas Bahde, The Life and Death of Gus Reed: A Story of Race Justice in Illinois During the Civil War and Reconstruction
Category: Publication, Scholarly
Nominee: Samara Rafert, Ohio University Press
Award: Certificate of Excellence
“The author deserves high praise for bringing this topic to the stage. It is potentially a major contribution to punishment under the criminal law and how it fit into the 19th century political system. The book is very timely, especially during the anniversaries of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. The author makes a major contribution to Sangamon County history in his overview of race relations in Illinois during the Civil War.”

Nominee: Tom Emery, “Illinois Through the Years: Biweekly Newspaper Column detailing the last 250 years of Illinois History”
Category: Ongoing periodicals
Nominator: Tom Emery
Award: Superior Achievement
“Tom Emery’s newspaper column “Illinois through the years” is printed in 9 Illinois newspapers reaching a total circulation of 61,664. His columns are well researched, concisely written, factual and informative. Says Taylorville Daily Breeze-Courier editor Maralee Rasar, “When it came to documenting information for the 120th anniversary of the Breeze-Courier and the 175th anniversary of Christian County, we turned to Tom Emery. He didn’t let us down. He wrote outstanding pieces in observance of both occasions, contributing to our state’s rich heritage.”

Other awards presented at the luncheon included ISHS special awards to retiring directors Happy Dean and Suzanne Dietrich for outstanding service to the Society over the years; the Illinois Heritage Decade of Service Award to Bill Kemp for serving as guest editor of Illinois Heritage from 2005-2015; the Illinois Heritage Artistic Service Award to Nancy Salefski of William Street Press, for her layout and design achievement for the ISHS from 1999-2015.

For photos from this event, check out our photo album, Highlights of 2015 Illinois State Historical Society Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon.
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