The Illinois Woman’s Press Association announced in May that The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago, written by Cynthia L. Ogorek and published by Arcadia Publishing in 2008, garnered a first place among non-fiction entries in the association’s 2009 Mate E. Palmer Communication Contest. The book was sent on to the National Federation of Press Women for national judging in June. On the national level, the book took third place in Nonfiction Books-History category.
One judge called the book a “fantastic ‘biography’ of the Lincoln Highway!” Adding that Ogorek had “masterfully selected vintage photographs to illustrate the finely crafted biographical text of the extended captions.”
The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago was also honored in May at the Illinois State Historical Society’s 2009 Annual Awards Luncheon in Springfield with the ISHS “Superior Achievement” award.
The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago covers a 90-mile stretch of the highway from western Indiana through eastern Illinois. It gives a brief summary of the Highway’s national history illustrated by vintage images of local people and events, such as the Lincoln Highway Association’s representatives in Joliet and Aurora and the Ideal Section—the premier stretch of the road that exemplified how a state-of-the-art highway in 1923 should look. It was built in Dyer, Indiana. The book ends with a chapter on the movement to preserve the Lincoln Highway nationally as well as in Indiana and in Illinois where it has been designated as National Scenic Byway.
Earlier this year, Ogorek, a native of the Calumet region south of Chicago, received the Homewood-based South Suburban Heritage Association’s annual “Distinguished Friend of South Suburban Heritage” award. She was also named Outstanding Alumna of 2008 by the History and Political Science Department of Purdue Calumet last November.
Ogorek, who is the owner of The Public Historian, has been a practicing historian in the southern suburbs of Chicago for over twenty years. Her goal is to bring history to the community at large by producing programs, books and articles about historic people, places and events. She earned her masters in U.S. history at Purdue in 1996 and also holds a certificate from the Seminar for Historical Administration at Colonial Williamsburg.
Among the many historical articles and programs she has produced, she wrote another award-winning book on the region’s history called Along the Calumet River (Arcadia 2004). It is a pictorial history of a river system that drains northwest Indiana and Chicago’s southeast side and southern suburbs.
The South Suburban Heritage Association was founded in the mid-1980s as a means to locate and identify resources related to the history and culture of the south Cook County area. Past recipients of the Distinguished Friend of the Southern Suburbs have included Illinois Senator William F. Mahar and Geoffrey Baer, producer of regional history programs on WTTW-Channel 11 Chicago.