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Mark W. Sorensen, Macon County Historian and ISHS Life Member, receives the Illi...

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Mark W. Sorensen, Macon County Historian and ISHS Life Member, receives the Illinois State Historical Society's "Lifetime Achievement" award from ISHS immediate past president Russell Lewis at the 2015 Annual Awards Ceremony, held April 25 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield. Photo by William Furry. More than 40 awards were presented at this year's annual ceremony. For more information about the Awards Program, go to www.historyillinois.org


Thursday, April 30, 2015 Historical Marker Dedication Home for the Friendless/Fa...

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Thursday, April 30, 2015
Historical Marker Dedication
Home for the Friendless/Family Service
11:30 a.m., 7th and South Grand Ave.
Springfield, IL

This historical marker commemorates the Springfield orphanage and shelter known as the Home for the Friendless, which was established on Lincoln's Birthday, 1863. Originally intended for homeless and indigent women and children, it became a refuge for refugees from Union occupied states in the Civil War, specifically Arkansas and Missouri. The first refugees, under the care of Rev. Francis Springer, a friend and former neighbor of Lincoln, arrived in January 1865, and were "placed out" to families. Others became lifelong residents of the Home for the Friendless, which evolved into the Children's Service League and later to the Family Service Center, which still provides social services, counseling, and referrals to needy families. The marker will be dedicated on a site near the original Home for the Friendless. The public is invited to the ceremony and to a short reception afterwards in FSC Conference Room. For more information, call 217-525-2781 and ask for Bill.

Illustration: Springfield Home for the Friendless, pen and ink drawing by William Crook Jr. Used by permission.


The Lonesome Train An Illinois Premiere by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra The...

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The Lonesome Train
An Illinois Premiere by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra led by dynamic Music Director Alastair Willis will perform the Illinois premiere of the re-constructed orchestra version of Earl Robinson’s The Lonesome Train by Maurice Peress with text by Millard Lampell. The Lonesome Train includes narration, dramatized readings and song while the listener takes an illustrated musical journey across the United States. The narration depicts the mixed emotions of a country that was mourning their beloved 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, even though some could not believe that he had actually been shot. The Lonesome Train celebrates Lincoln’s Legacy as Music Director Alastair Willis creatively and musically brings a community together for an amazing performance as part of the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition Re-enactment.

The Lonesome Train is known for its wonderfully entertaining and riveting story as it depicts Lincoln’s final train ride through narration, dramatized readings, and song with chorus, orchestra and banjo. For this special performance, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra is joined by the newly formed ISO Festival Chorus led by Dale Rogers. The one hundred plus chorus includes members of the Springfield, and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois’ communities and will be joined by The Heritage Ensemble, a gospel chorus under the direction of Artistic Director and Founder, Sharon Reed of Peoria, Illinois. The piece will include many more community members including: Ralph Shank as the Balladeer, Calvin Hightower as the Preacher, Robert Weldon as the Square Dance Caller, Tom Mindock as the Soldier, John O’Connor as Abraham Lincoln, and Square Dancers from the Springfield International Folk Dancers. In addition to all community involvement, The Lonesome Train will be narrated by Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, Frank Williams.

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is honored to be a part of the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition re-enactment commemoration and we invite you to be a part of this historic moment as we celebrate the legacy of Abraham Lincoln! Concert will also include Copland’s John Henry, Honegger’s Pacific 231, and Gerswhin’s Porgy & Bess Suite.

The Lincoln Train
Friday, May 1, 2015 | 7:30 PM | Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, Bloomington, IL
Saturday, May 2, 2015 | 7:30 PM | Sangamon Auditorium, UIS, Springfield, IL

Buy Your Ticket Today for this Historic Evening!
Tickets for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s concerts may be purchased in Springfield through the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office at 217-206-6160 and in Bloomington through the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Office at 309-434-2777. Single ticket prices range from $5 for students (6 years +) to $60 for premium seating. Tickets for youth (5 and under) are free with a paying adult. Senior discounts are also available.
Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis is the Music Director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Previous positions include Principal Guest Conductor with the Florida Orchestra’s Coffee Concert series and Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony. In the past few seasons, Willis has guest conducted orchestras around the world including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, China National Orchestra (Beijing), and Silk Road Ensemble (with Yo-Yo Ma) among others. Born in Acton, Massachusetts, Willis received his bachelor’s degree with honors from England’s Bristol University, an Education degree from Kingston University, and a Masters of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Dale Rogers, Choral Director
Dale Thomas Rogers has served as the Director of Music and the Arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield since 1986. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from I

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 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
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