Anyone involved in the operation of a local history museum or historic site knows first- hand about the frustration associated with finding funding for a project that although limited in size, subject, or audience, still could have significant impact on our knowledge of local history. 

   After years of providing piece-meal support for a cross-section of history projects including some of the Society's own efforts, in 2013 the board of directors voted to develop a formal method of dealing with requests for money from groups and individuals, especially after it raised $9,000 in Founders Fund donations in 2011 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Society. At the time, the Society considered using the donations to pay for permanent plaques in area schools providing information on the history of each building, but the scope and cost was unworkable. Instead , board voted to create the Special Grants Program.  The first grant were awarded in 2013.

   Since then, the grant program has been tweaked, from semi-annual to annual, and refined to be more reflective of what types of projects the Society will fund, how much it will allot, and what our expectations will be of those organizations and individuals who receive our awards. It continues to be a work in progress.

   Winners are selected by the Society's Speical Projects Grant committee which reviews the applications and makes its recommendation to the board.


   The 2024 competition is now accepting applications. The deadline is April 20. Winners will be announced in June.

   To apply, go to this page and download the SPECIAL PROJECTS APPLICATION FORM to start the process. the form will ask you in detail to describe the proposed project, costs, purpose, prospective audience and more. Since the forms are revised each year, the latest form will not be posted here until the competition is announced. 


   There are limitations on the types of projects the Society will consider funding. They will be specified in the application document. All projects must be completed within a year and if applicable, grant winners may be asked to be part of or give an individual program about their project for the Society if appropriate. The Society must be publicly acknowledged for its support. 

We gladly accept donations to our Special Projects Fund. Amount selected by you.      



Chatham Area Public Library $1,000 to digitize a portion of 70 audio cassette tapes that contain oral history interviews conducted from senior residents in the community who reminisced about growing up in the 1920s and beyond. Once digitized, the recordings will be transcribed and then stored online at the Illinois Digital Archives in the Chatham Area History collection.

Central 3 Community First Project, Inc.: $1,000 to purchase several additional display cases to secure artifacts and loaned possessions being collected for exhibit at their restored First Black Firehouse Museum in Springfield.

Dana Thomas Foundation and Springfield Art Association: $1,000 to host a presentation on the work of nationally known artist and poet Leigh Gross Day and her friendship with Susan Lawrence Dana. Day was a life-long Springfield resident.

Temple B’rith Sholom: $1,000 for a bronze plaque to recognize and memorialize the location “Hebrew Ground” within Block 5 of Oak Ridge Cemetery. The plaque will honor the final resting place of 342 Jewish settlers of Springfield including the first Rabbi in Springfield.

Springfield Art Association: $1,000 to restore a mid-19th century sofa once owned by Illinois Governor Augustus French, who served as governor from 1846-1853. The sofa has been on display at Edwards Place, but needs to be reupholstered so that it can be utilized by visitors who cannot stand for long periods of time.


Friends of the Original Leland Farm House Inc. - $1,000 to restore the Leland Farm House Summer Kitchen which has been moved from its original site to Washington Park. The funds will be used to reinstall the windows, a door and staircase as well as mason work for the foundation and a brick walkway outside the historic 1860s building. The building will be used to display information about the Leland family and original farmhouse.

Illinois State Museum Society – $900 to restore Vachel Lindsay’s Lincoln Top Hat at the Illinois State Museum. The 3-foot tall fiberglass version of Lincoln’s stove pipe hat was painted by artist Felicia Olin in 2009 as part of the city’s “Hats Off to Lincoln” project celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. Being displayed outside the museum for a number of years, the hat has suffered weather damage and now needs repainting.

Oak Ridge Cemetery - $1,000 to create a brochure and map which will identify and celebrate distinguished individuals of color buried at the cemetery. The booklet will assist descendants, historians and other interested parties in locating burial markers of African Americans interred at the cemetery.

Preservation Inc. - $1,000 for supplies and labor costs associated with drywalling the damaged ceiling and walls in practice rooms around the stage of the 1908 music conservatory on the former Ursuline Academy campus. Future plans include making the building useable for music lessons for which it was originally designed.


Documentary-maker Mary Frances, for a Grave-stone for Olive Price at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
 Provide a grave stone for Olive Price, sister of Eva Carroll Monroe who founded the Lincoln Colored Home in Springfield for black orphans and widows in 1898 and operated it for 35 years. Price helped her sister raise initial money for the home at 427 South Twelfth Street. The building, the first Black orphanage in Illinois, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Springfield anthropologist and college professor Mary Frances recently produced a documentary about Monroe's efforts. 

Illinois State Historical Society
Funds helped defray production costs in making The Mysterious Bard of Sangamo, a professionally-acted film based on the life of talented poet John Hancock, a well-traveled, well-educated English-man who made his home in Springfield in the 1830s and 1840s, and identified authorship of his work when it was published in the frontier newspaper, Sangamo Journal only with the letter "H."

Springfield and Central Illinois African-American History Museum
Project Description: Provided funding toward creation of a permanent guide to the “Colored Section” at historic Oak Ridge Cemetery including an interactive map with information about persons buried there.

Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation Tree Committee
The grant provided the committee with funds to identify and place permanent markers for select trees that have historic significance.


Clayville Historic Site will use the grant to digitize slides, photos, and newspaper articles for displays at Clayville and offsite presentations. Clayville Historic Site interprets an early settlement in Sangamon County. 12828 Route 125, Pleasant Plains.

Dana Thomas House Foundation used the grant to develop a presentation of information about Susan Dana’s neighbors and neighborhood during the years she lived in the Frank Lloyd Wright House. Information will be presented via webinar, printed brochures, and walking tours. The walking tour would pass Governor’s Mansion, State Capitol, and Vachel Lindsay House. 301 E Lawrence Ave Springfield 62703.

The Veterans Memorial Foundation used the grant to erect an Interpretive Plaque for the Grand Army of the Republic Mound at Oak Ridge Cemetery. The plaque includes names of 98 veterans buried there and the dates of burial. The re-dedication of the 1895 mound took place on September 13.

Kathryn Harris requested funds to erect a marker interpreting the “Colored Section” of Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum will use the grant to train board members and volunteers working with Mark DePue and purchase audiovisual equipment to enhance AAMH exhibits. AAHM exhibits frequently require a lot of reading. The audiovisual equipment will make it easier to provide the information in an alternate format. 1440 Monument Ave., Springfield 62702.

The Abraham Lincoln Association used the grant to erect an interpretive sign identifying the site for their proposed Lincoln’s Springfield Cottage Project near the Lincoln Home area. The project would recreate the one-and-a-half story home and interpret how the Lincolns lived before the expansion to the two-story house we see today.


Central 3 Community First Project Inc., $1,000.
Project: Signage for first black firehouse in Springfield describing its history and role in the 1908 race riot. An architectual drawing of the new façade will be added following completion of restoration.

Springfield & Central Illinois African American History Museum,: $1,000.
Project: Exhibit on the national Negro League players from Springfield and Central Illinois and their impact on area baseball.

Pleasant Plains Historical Society, $500.
Project: Refine and rebuild wheel chair ramps to three historic buildings at its Clayville Historic Site,

Oak Ridge National Cemetery, $500
Project: Create an interpretive marker with historical information about the former third street enrance sign (circa 1900), now restored and ready for display at the cemetery bell tower.

Springfield Art Association/Historic Edwards Place, $500.
Project: Traveling history trunk program to bring history into the classroom.

Sarah Jones, $1,000
Project: Digitize and thus preserve blueprints of the Sacred Heart Chapel (1895) and the Ursula Hall Music Conservatory (1895) designed by William Conway, Springfield’s first architect.

Rochester Historic Preservation Society,$500
Project: Signage at the Rochester Historic Park,

Oak Hill Cemetery, Clear Lake, $500
Project: Creation of a Donner Party memorial plaque and landscaping

Rochester Sesquicentennial Committee, $500
Project: Plaque marking the grave of Rochester’s first settler, James McCoy who is buried in the 1800s pioneer section of the Rochester Township Cemetery. 

Pleasant Plains Historical Society, $1,000.
Project: Outfitting a newly built log cabin school at its Clayville Historic site. The funds will be used to acquire materials necessary to provide insight into what a school looked like in the early 1800s, when Illinois was a young state. 

Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum.$1,000
Project: Research and develop data, pictures and information pertaining to early African American pioneers who settled in Sangamon County and surrounding Central Illinois areas, which will be used to create new exhibits and displays. 

Springfield Art Association/Historic Edwards Place, $500 
Project: Install an exhibit of archeological artifacts dating to circa 1835 -1850 to provide a glimpse into an early 19th century kitchen.

Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation. $500.
Project: Creation of a donor plaque which will display the names and donors contributing to the restoration of Oak Ridge Cemetery’s handwritten internment Books 1 (includes Abraham Lincoln) and Book 2 (includes Mary Lincoln). 

Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation, $1,000.
Project: Restoration of a  weathered tablet behind which Abraham Lincoln’s remains were placed in the receiving tomb of the cemetery. 

Williamsville Public Library and Museum, $1,000
Project: Historical marker for the Price-Prather House,  built in 1868 by cattle breeder James Price and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“An Historic Christmas," $1,000.
Project: A musical program that tells the story of Christmas as it was celebrated here in the 1800s, at various area historic sites. The grant  covered fees for musicians, singers and performers.

Tara McClellan McAndrew, $900.
Project: Write and produce stories about Springfield and Sangamon County history on Springfield’s National Public Radio station, WUIS-FM. 

Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation, $1,000.
Project: Replace the broken automatic controller in the bell tower at Oak Ridge Cemetery so that it can resume tolling on the hour and half hour as well as for special events. 

Illinois State Museum Society, $1,000.
Project: Help establish a tree ring analysis laboratory at the Museum’s Research and Collection Center,,to accurately determining date and establish settlement chronology and settlement patterns. .

Pleasant Plains Historical Society, $750.
Project: Permanent signage for a new three-quarter mile loop Nature Trail at its Clayville Historic Site.

Tara McClellan McAndrew, $500. 
Project: Underwrite a program of short stories about the history of Sangamon County that will be aired on WUIS-FM.

Village of Williamsville, $500
Project: Phase two of a signage program that details its Williamsville's involvement in the Interurban, an early mass transportation system.  

Abraham Lincoln Association, $750.
Project: To help purchase T-shirts and caps for youths participating in a  reenactment of the life of Civil War soldiers marking 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Springfield Art Association: $500.
Project: printing and promotional costs in conjunction with four other Springfield historic groups that jointly present “The Fiery Trial: Civil War Stories by Candlelight" as part of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Village of Williamsville, $500.
Project: For graphic design fees for a historic site marker detailing Williamsville’s early transportation system including the Inter Urban rail that provided a direct link into downtown Springfield and points east and west from the late 1800s through the mid 1900s.

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