Illinois State Genealogical Society
2021 ISGS Awards and Honors
Community Service Award
  • Tara Cajacob, Genealogy & Local History Specialist, was nominated by Kristen McCallum from the Algonquin Area Public Library for her work developing weekly Zoom meetings where librarians and genealogists across Illinois came together to discuss a different topic within genealogy each week. Tara created these events to serve the genealogy community while the Governor’s Stay at Home order was issued due to COVID-19. Tara was hosting the Zoom chats from the beginning of April and was still hosting the events at the time of her nomination. Attendance ranged from 19 to 79 people.
  • The Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society was nominated by Susan Rynerson of the same society for their services and contributions to genealogy. They are a regional research facility that attracts visitors from all over. They serve their members and non-members from across the country and Europe. They are actively microfilming and digitizing a 130 year old newspaper collection, finding and applying for grants, updating a large cemetery book, rebuilt four computers, added a comprehensive marriage and death index to their website, are working to compile a complete history of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, have speaking arrangements with community groups and libraries, publish an in-depth monthly periodical, handle research requests, and staff their library/archive six days a week.


Special Recognition Award

  • Dr. Mark DePue was nominated by Samuel Wheeler of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum for his work as the Directory of Oral History at ALPLM. Under Dr. DePue’s direction, the Oral History program has collected over 1,030 interviews with over 900 interviews available to the public on the program’s website. He supervises interns and volunteers who work on the project, he writes newspaper columns featuring the veterans who were interviewed, he makes radio appearances, writes articles for the Museum’s Facebook page, gives presentations on historical and oral history related subjects, and curated the Museum’s 2019 exhibit, In This Great Struggle: the Greatest Generation Remembers World War II which incorporated 21 videos of the WWII veterans interviewed for the Oral History program.
  • Betty Schatz was nominated by the Kankakee Valley Genealogical Society for her many years of service with the society. Betty is a charter member of the society that formed in 1968. She established their first Quarterly and continued as their editor through 1977. Throughout the society’s history, Betty volunteered as Treasurer in 1969, President from 1970-1972, Director from 1977-1978, Vice President and program coordinator from 2006 to present day. Betty works in the genealogy room one afternoon a week helping people with their genealogy research.​​
  • Mike Dickson was nominated by Susan Rynerson of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society for service and IT talents. Mike volunteers full-time for the past two years with the society during which: he designed and launched their new website that he maintains, he rebuilt four computers for their use, he manages all IT functions of the website, the society’s devices, wireless systems and more, he makes donations to help cover the IT project costs, he is working to set up cameras and recording equipment so the society can stream and record their meetings and workshops. TCGHS averages six more new members most months which they attribute to Mike’s hard work with the website.
  • Barbara J. Brenner was nominated by the Peoria County Genealogical Society for her many leadership roles with the society. She has volunteered as Vice President, Recording Secretary, Picnic Chairperson, Nomination Committees, and Oral Histories for Prairie Roots, the PCGS journal. She actively encourages folks to write articles for the journal. When Peoria hosted the 2010 ISGS annual conference, Barb was a member of the conference committee and helped to promote the conference. She volunteers for community events like the Princeville Heritage Days, Oktoberfest, Brimfield Old Settlers, Irish Fest, and Heritage Days. Barb chaired the PCGS 40th anniversary celebration and the PCGS 45th anniversary picnic.
  • Carol Ann Johnson Hicks was nominated by Ruth M. Neathery. Carol has made significant contributions to her hometown of Hoopeston, Illinois. She is the Past President and current Secretary/Treasurer of the Hoopeston Historical Society. Carol is past Regent and Present Registrar of the Barbara Standish Chapter of DAR. She is past Illinois State District III Committee Chairman and present Editor of the District III newsletter for DAR. She is the Secretary of the Save the Lorraine Foundation which works to restore Hoopeston’s historic movie theatre. Carol has co-authored several books including Images of America: Hoopeston, Images of America: Vermilion County, and Laura Ida Booth, American Anastasia. She also writes a column for the Hoopeston Chronicle called “Carol’s History Corner.” While she balances all of that, Carol still finds time to volunteer with Tree Climbers, a genealogy workshop that she founded that is held once a month at the Hoopeston Public Library.


Youth Award

  • Three genealogists from Prospect High School, Zoe Meier, Joanna Morley, and Riley Biondi were nominated by their teacher, Michael Andrews, for their excellent work and collaboration on their genealogical projects. Michael Andrews launched a new course called Roots Humanities as a senior elective for the 2019-2020 school year. During the class, Zoe, Joanna, and Riley created their own unique documentaries chronicling their family history research.

Individual Writer's Award

  • John D. Cameron is the winner of the 2020 Individual Writer’s Award of the ISGS Quarterly. The award honors a writer or co-writers who made a significant contribution to genealogy through an article of exceptional merit that was published in the Quarterly. Cameron’s special talent is weaving historical context throughout his clearly written, well documented accounts. His contributions to the Quarterly range from an article about the life of the Rev. John B. Dawson, a civil rights pioneer and early Black settler of Chicago; to a history of the entrepreneurs and the scoundrels involved with the property where his grandparents built their house in 1958; to a piece tracing the generations of his ancestors who worked as brickmakers in Chicago and nearby communities. In another account, about an old-fashioned chair that has been handed down from family member to family member, he paints delightful miniatures of the many lives the chair touched over the many years. An amateur family historian, Cameron is a dogged researcher who has documented the lives of his ancestors in the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Australia. He has self-published several accounts of his family based on that research. Cameron, a lifelong Illinois resident, lives in Chicago, holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh. He currently is studying Scottish Heritage through the University of Aberdeen.