Sunday, April 14, 2024

Best of Illinois History Annual Awards

2023 Best of Illinois History Awards Winners

2022 Best of Illinois History Awards Winners


Any individual, group, or organization that has furthered the collection, preservation, and/or interpretation of an aspect of Illinois history is eligible to be nominated for an Illinois State Historical Society award.


  • Nominations may be made by any individual or group. Individuals may be nominated for only one award category each year.
  • The accomplishment for which an award is given will generally have been completed during the preceding calendar year (January 1 to December 31).


  • Judging is done by an Awards Committee appointed by the President of the Illinois State Historical Society.
  • Supplemental documentation is an essential aspect of the Awards Committee evaluation. Examples include:
    1. Evidence of recognition by organizations or media in the locality or state at large;
    2. Informed opinion of persons familiar with the achievement;
    3. Published reviews;
    4. Evidence that work meets appropriate professional criteria.
  • Presentation of awards will take place at the Illinois State Historical Society Annual Awards Luncheon. Details will be provided to awardees.

Award Levels

  • Award of Superior Achievement: Recognition of superior achievement that serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public.
  • Certification of Excellence: Recognition of work of exemplary quality showing considerable creativity, serious scholarship, and/or an efficient utilization of resources.
  • Award of Merit: Recognition of scholarship, creativity, or resourcefulness in a project of historical significance by a non-professional.


  • Publications

    • Scholarly: For an original scholarly work of one or more volumes that adds to the knowledge of state and local history. Normally such work would show evidence of original research and interpretation and would include at least one of the following: bibliography, footnotes, and index.
    • Other Publications: Single works by one or more authors that compile, preserve, and/or interpret state or local history, thereby increasing community awareness. These works may or may not be commissioned or sponsored by an organization.
    • Russell P. Strange Memorial Book of the Year: Honors the best book published within the past year dealing with some aspect of Illinois History. Criteria includes scope, scholarship, effectiveness of writing, and relevancy of subject.
  • Non-Book Materials

    • Ongoing/Periodical: Newsletter, journals, and other publications issued on a continuing basis.
    • Meritorious Periodicals Award. Honors the finest periodical literature created by Illinois historical societies and museums, including but not limited to newsletters, magazines, and journals. Criteria includes scope of work, quality of data, effectiveness of presentation, user accessibility, and relevancy of subject
    • Special Projects: Newly created or revised informational brochures, pamphlets or booklets, development programs, posters, calendars, annual reports, etc.
    • Best Website. Honors the finest websites treating themes in Illinois history. Works evaluated for scope, quality of data, effectiveness of presentation, user accessibility, and relevancy of subject. Nominators are required to submit both the website URL and photocopies of sample web pages, but supporting documentation—letters, reviews, and ancillary material as necessary.
  • Collection/Preservation

    • Projects dealing with conservation, restoration, and/or preservation of two- and three-dimensional historic, scientific, or art objects in an organization’s collections. Supporting evidence and documentation must describe planning, rationale, budget, and evaluation procedures.
  • Public Programming

    • Multimedia Production: Creation and presentation of productions, whether privately or institutionally sponsored, that promote knowledge and appreciation of our heritage. Such productions might include videos, CD-ROMs, or slide presentations. To be eligible, the materials created must be on deposit in an institution that makes them available to the public.
    • Exhibitions: Development, fabrication, and implementation of permanent, temporary, or traveling exhibits organized by the nominee. Supporting evidence and documentation must describe planning rationale, budget, and evaluation procedures.
    • Education Programs: Formal and informal instructional programs with goals and objectives related to the nominees mission statement and programs. Textbooks and instructional materials that are available to the public are also eligible. Supporting evidence and documentation must describe planning, rationale, budget, and evaluation procedures.
  • Special Projects

    • For initiation and completion of a specific project that increases awareness of state and local history. Nominations should include appropriate documentation, such as videotapes, photographs, brochures, catalogs, and reviews. Generally, a special project is a one-time project developed and implemented to achieve a specific purpose.
  • Lifetime Achievement

    • This award is given to an individual for sustained and varied contributions to state and local history. Nominations must include appropriate documentation of the individual’s service at the state or local level.
  • Russell Lewis Award for a Young Museum Professional

    • This award is given in recognition of outstanding accomplishment of a full-time museum professional under the age of 30 (as of the deadline date). Criteria for choosing a winner will include, but not be limited to, leadership in the field exemplified by holding office or serving on a committee of a professional organization; presentations at workshops or conferences; publications; contributions to research in an area of expertise; and creativity and vision as it relates to his or her current position. The award includes a stipend to attend the Midwest Museums Conference Annual Meeting.

Complete and mail four (4) copies of the nomination form with four (4) copies of your supporting materials to: ISHS Awards, Illinois State Historical Society, 411 E. Monroe Street, PO Box 1800, Springfield, IL, 62705-1800. Nominations must be postmarked by November 30 of every year. Please include a $50 entry fee, made payable to the Illinois State Historical Society. For more information, please call 217-525-2781 or email

One copy of every publication nominated will be retained for the ISHS’s office library.

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Annual Award Registration Payment

Pay your annual award registration fee online.

$50.00 Payment

Illinois State Historical Society   |   Strawbridge-Shepherd House   |   PO Box 1800   |   Springfield, IL 62705-1800

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