Monday, March 4, 2024


2020 Best of Illinois History Awards

2020 Best of Illinois History Awards
Elaine Evans
/ Categories: General News

2020 Best of Illinois History Awards

The postponement and eventual cancelation of the ISHS’s “Best of Illinois History Awards and Gala” was a disappointment for many of us, as it is the one time of year we get to celebrate the achievement of the people and organizations, publishers, writers, and exhibitors, who each year demonstrate the variety and depth of Prairie State history. We really enjoy meeting our friends and partners in history and thanking them for reawakening our passion for the past, but shutting the celebration down to keep us all safe from the pandemic seemed a wise choice.

It’s hard to believe we are already six months into the year and time to start thinking about the 2021 awards. Before we do that, let’s toast the winners and salute those who sent in the nominations that made this year’s awards possible.

  • Richard Allen Morton, Mabelton, Georgia
    Roger C. Sullivan and the Triumph of the Chicago Democratic Machine, 1908-1920
    (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by John M. Andrick, Urbana
  • David MacDonald and Raine Waters, Carlock, Illinois
    Kaskaskia: The Lost Capital of Illinois
    (Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by Angela Swafford, SIU Press
  • Michael V. Metz
    Radicals in the Heartland: The 1960 Student Protest Movement at the University of Illinois
    (University of Illinois Press, 2019)
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Angela Burton
  • Libby Hill, Evanston, Illinois
    The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History, Revised Edition
    (Southern Illinois University Press, 2019)
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Angela Swafford, SIU Press
  • Betty Obendorf and Kathy Pasch
    The Gallant 15th of Illinois: History of a Civil War Volunteer Infantry Regiment
    Published by Kathy Pasch
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Mike Faivre, Polo
  • Anya Jabour, Missoula, MT
    Sophonisba Breckinridge: Champion Women’s Activism in Modern America
    (University of Illinois Press, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by Roberta Sparanberg
  • Miranda Wilkerson and Heather Richmond
    Germans in Illinois
    (Southern Illinois University Press, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by Angela Swafford, Carbondale
  • Abe Lincoln Project/Looking for Lincoln in Pike County
    The Lincoln Connection—Pike County, Illinois—A Call to Arms, American Civil War, 1861-1865
    (Acclaim Press, 2019)
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Dr. Wayne Temple, Springfield
  • Tom Emery, Carlinville
    Moments in Lincoln’s Life
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Tom Emery, Carlinville
  • David Bates, Chicago
    The Ordeal of the Jungle: Race and the Chicago Federation of Labor, 1903-1922
    (Southern Illinois University Press, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by Angela Swafford, Carbondale
  • Dominic A. Pacyga, Chicago
    American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago
    (University of Chicago Press, 2019)
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by David B. Olsen, Chicago
  • D. Leigh Henson, Springfield, Missouri
    The Real Estate Empire of the John Dean Gillett Family of Elkhart, Illinois
    Self-Published, online
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by D. Leigh Henson
  • The Lawrence County Historical Society, Lawrenceville
    Donna Burton, Ellen White, Dan Scherer, Janet Faro, John Hamilton, James Allison, Barbara Gognat, Larry Curry, John King, Nancy King, Flossie Price
    Growing Aware: Farming and Farm Life in Lawrence County
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Donna Burton, Effingham
Exhibitions and Special Projects
  • Lawrence County Historical Society, Lawrenceville
    “Farming and Farm Life in Lawrence County,” by Nancy King, Kaye Fisher, Ellen White
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Donna Barton, Effingham
  • Effingham County Museum, Effingham
    “Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the St. Anthony’s Hospital Fire of 1949”
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Linda Ruholl, Teutopolis
  • Elmhurst History Museum
    Worlds of Wonder: Remembering Chicagoland’s Amusement Parks"
    Award of Superior Achievement
    Nominated by David Oberg, City of Elmhurst
  • Joliet Area Historical Museum, Joliet
    “Art from the Ashes: An Exhibition of the Old Joliet Prison Burnt District Artists”
    Certificate of Excellence
    Nominated by Heather Bigeck, Joliet
Lifetime Achievement Awards
  • Ann Darrow, Waukegan
    Nominated by the Waukegan Historical Society and Ty Rohrer

    Ann Darrow (along with her husband, James) became a life member of the Waukegan Historical Society in 1989. Ann has been a dedicate volunteer for the organization for more than 30 years, serving on the Board of Directors as corresponding secretary from 1990-1998. She has put in countless hours for the Society. More importantly to the community, Ann has dedicated over 25 years to the research of Waukegan’s Oakwood Cemetery. She took it upon herself to create a database of records She has been the driving force for creating and maintaining accurate records of the cemetery and she is the primary contact for the city regarding cemetery. Ann is a pillar in the successes of the Waukegan Historical Society and Oakwood Cemetery Walk. Her dedication to the preservation as well as showcasing Waukegan’s history is truly amazing.
  • Janice Petterchak, Rochester
    Nominated by the Illinois State Historical Society and David Scott

    Janice Petterchak’s personal and professional contributions to Illinois history are nothing less than remarkable. Director of the Illinois State Historical Library (Now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library) from 1987-1995, she has mentored and inspired dozens of young men and women to pursue careers in public history, and helped many younger students get published in Illinois History, a magazine for junior historians. Ms. Petterchak held several key positions with the Illinois State Historical Society and for six years directed a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities to catalog newspaper collections in Illinois repositories. She is the author of more than 20 books about Illinois people, places, and businesses, including the ISHS’s Historic Illinois: An Illustrated History (2005). She was also co-editor of Illinois History: An Annotated Bibliography (1995). She has served as a historical consultant for numerous projects, and presented dozens of papers and lectures at conferences around the nation. For many Illinoisans, Janice has been the face of Prairie State history, and her contributions are more than deserving of this award.
  • Roland Harris, Highland
    Nominated by the Madison County Historical Society and Cindy Reinhardt

    Roland Harris is well known throughout his community as the author of a local history column, “Thoughts to Remember,” published in the Highland News Leader from 1967-1977, and from 2001 to the present (more than years). In 1970, he founded the Highland Historical Society and has since been instrumental in restoring and preserving local cemeteries. When Harris and his wife of more than 70 years moved to the Highland Home a few years ago, he made arrangements to move his lifetime collection of 6,000 artifacts, documents, and photographs with him. Rooms in the old section of The Highland Home were made available as museum space, and volunteers helped him create a museum showcasing the history of Highland and surrounding communities. The museum is open by appointment, with 91-year-old Roland as a guide. According to Highland mayor Joseph R. Michaelis, “There just isn’t another individual in Highland that is more deserving of a lifetime achievement award relating to our local history.”
  • Marcie D. Young, Bloomington
    Nominated by the Illinois House of Representatives and Justin Blandford

    Upon her retirement in 2019 from position as site superintendent for the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site in Bloomington, the Illinois House of Representatives presented HR1019, congratulating her for a stellar career as educator, interpreter, and preserver of Illinois history. Prior to joining the staff at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Young served as the last director of the University Museums at Illinois State University, where she fostered a new era in museum programming, marketing and collections management. After joining the Clover Lawn (David Davis) mansion staff, Young worked with countless area schools, museums, and various organizations to provide quality education and entertainment programs. She developed numerous fund-raising initiatives and supervised dozens of events—Christmas at the Mansions, the Bountiful Feast, Civil War Days, Afternoon Teas, and Garden Walks—developing lasting partnerships with area businesses and organizations, Under her leadership, the story of the Davis Mansion has been greatly expanded to include Sarah Davis and others who lived and worked at this remarkable Victorian-era home. She has mentored countless students and interns from area universities, and generously assisted scholars, authors, and filmmakers in understanding the history of the mansion and Illinois history.
Russell P. Strange Book of the Year Award

Mark Flotow
In Their Letters, In their Words: Illinois Civil War Soldiers Write Home
(Southern Illinois University Press, 2019)
Book of the Year
Nominated by David Joens, Springfield

Author’s comments:
“I was both floored and thrilled when I learned the ISHS had chosen my book for the Russell P. Strange Memorial Book of the Year Award. My great gratitude goes to my Southern Illinois University Press enablers in producing a singular work we could all be proud of; it would have been something much less without their combined expertise and wisdom. Among them, my humble thanks go to Sylvia Frank Rodrigue, who shared my vision but also endured the missteps and foibles of a first-time author. My appreciation also extends to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, as its resources and personnel played a vital part in the book’s creation from start to finish. Finally, I admit, in bringing the book project to fruition, my two greatest assets are a supportive spouse and an ability to read cursive writing.”
--Mark Flotow

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