CHARLESTON (JG-TC) — Under the direction of Eastern Illinois University history professor Debra A. Reid, an EIU history class has earned kudos for its work in unearthing the background of Masons.

According to a press release from the Illinois State Historical Society, history class 4930 researched and created an temporary exhibit housed in the entrance of EIU’s historic Booth Library called “Building a Brotherhood: Freemasonry in Central Illinois.” For this, the class was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the ISHS.

The students researched the topic, interviewed local Masons, borrowed artifacts and photos from local organizations and the university archives, wrote the script and text blocks and produced an exhibit on eight panels and two display cases that included an brochure and audio-visual elements.

The students and their instructor should be commended for their work, said William Furry, ISHS executive director.

Accepting for the class at an April 27 awards ceremony were Amy Wywialowski, Stephanie Templin, Alex Hamilton, Alyse Deverick and Chase Driskell.

More than 90 guests gathered at the Executive Mansion in Springfield to recognize the brightest and best interpreters of Prairie State history in 2012. Represented were nearly three-dozen Illinois authors, museums, exhibit organizers, social studies teachers, students, and individuals who made outstanding contributions toward the promotion, preservation, and study of Illinois history.

Former ISHS President Mark W. Sorensen, chair of the awards committee, noted that the program had a record number of entries this year and the competition was stiff.

Judges from all over the state reviewed the nominations, ranked their top selections, and the winners are now history.

“The ISHS Awards Program continues to recognize the best of the best in the broad canvas of historical interpretation,” said ISHS President Russell Lewis. “The society seeks out what is exceptional in the state — the best books, the best exhibits, the best teachers, the best exhibits — and the nominations we get always surprise us with their creativity, insight, and resourcefulness. This year’s harvest is no exception.”

Effingham student noted for Lincoln essay

In other ISHS honors, the Orendorff Scholarship is awarded annually to a high school student who writes the best 1,500-word essay about Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War era in Illinois. The winner receives a check from the Society for $1,000.

Among students who received the Honorable Mention Award in this category was Tearia Baker of Effingham High School

For more information about the awards and about the Illinois State Historical Society, visit