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Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, established in 1908, is the scholarly publication of the Illinois State Historical Society. The peer-reviewed Journal welcomes articles, essays, and documents about history, literature, art technology, law, and other subjects related to Illinois and the Midwest.

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society is published quarterly and is available to everyone for purchase, discounts are included for members of the Illinois State Historical Society. Visit our Membership section for membership options and information.

To purchase individual issues please contact our office.

Chicago Housing

Volume 111 - Number 1–2 - Spring/Summer 2018

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VOLUME 111 NO. 1-2 is our second consecutive double-issue commemorates Illinois’ 200th anniversary of state­hood. For those of us laboring in the historical profession and cognate fields—academically affiliated scholars and their students, unaffiliated scholars and researchers, public historians, museum professionals, archi­vists and librarians, and the like—anniversaries are moments to reflect upon disciplinary practice. They are, in other words, splendid occasions to reckon with the past, take stock of the present, and imagine the future. The last two major anniversaries of Illinois statehood—the centennial and sesquicentennial—produced landmark works of state history that collectively established the main contours of scholarship on the Prairie State well into the twentieth century. (These works, and our intellectual debts to them, are identified in the articles that follow.) The current issue of the Journal, “Illinois History: A Bicentennial Appraisal,” is offered in the same spirit. We seek to highlight the connections between the past—the history of this land called Illinois; the present—the current state of professional history about this land; and the future—how we might fruit­fully reframe and re-present this land’s history moving forward. The first six essays offer insightful sur­veys of recent trends in historical scholarship on Illinois from the colonial era to the very recent past. The historiographical essays mark the most important developments in historical scholarship on Illinois over the last thirty years or so, a necessary first-step in generating new research agendas and ultimately new narratives. The final two essays examine the practice of public history in Illinois, as it stands today. The cautionary les­sons learned from museum professionals and other practitioners of pub­lic history—declining public investments, conflicting political agendas, the growing role of local initiative, and most crucially, greater reliance on private resources—should alert us all to the need for an historical practice that informs, connects, and enriches diverse audiences and stakeholders.



Volume 110 - Number 3-4 - Fall/Winter 2017

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VOLUME 110 NOS 3-4 OF THE JOURNAL features a collection of seven essays in honor of the Illinois statehood bicentennial in 2018 written by both emerging and seasoned scholars.  Christopher Schnell looks at very early Illinois legal history and the conflict of opinions on the nature of property law between lawyers and squatters in "Lawyers, Squatters, and the Transformation of the Public Domain in Early-Statehood Illinois."  In ""You have been the soldiers friend or we dare not appeal to you": The Papers of Illinois Governor Richard Yates as a Window on Civil War Medicine," Glena Schroeder-Lein examines the medical concerns of Illinois soldiers and their loved ones as representative of civil war care generally.  In "Fields of Battle:  The Problem of Base Ball Playing Space in Post-Civil War Illinois," Robert Sampson studies comparative urban dynamics in the 1860's as the leaders of Springfield and Bloomington determined, in contrasting ways, where the sport could be played in their cities.  David Joens's study of Illinois' colored conventions in the 1880's titled "Illinois Colored Conventions of 1880s," determines them to have been more successful than previous African American conventions in the state.  Moving into the twentieth century, Denise Johnson in, "Central Illinois Women Who Served in the Military During World War II," uses interviews with eight central Illinois women to recount not only their experiences in the World War II military experiences, but also the life-long importance to them of work.  Mark DePue traces the development of sentiment for the 1980s constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the Illinois legislature through the abolition of cumulative voting in, "The Cutback Amendment of 1980: Unintended Consequences of Pat Quinn's Reforming Zeal".  Lastly, Robert Hartley in, "Alan Dixon and Paul Simon:  Like Brothers, They Did Not Always Agree or Win," examines the friendship of two very different Illinois politicians. 

Volume 110 - Number 2 - Summer 2017

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VOLUME 110 NO. 2 OF THE JOURNAL opens with three studies that about events that dramatically shaped the state’s nearly two hundred year history. In Pocahontas, Uleleh, and Hononegah: The Archetype of the American Indian Princess, Dan Blumlo explores the trope of the Indian Princess– who intervenes at a crucial moment to save a white man from certain death at the hands of savage Indians– evolved and became central to nineteenth and twentieth century conceptions of American nationalism. In Jim Crow Comes to Central Illinois: Racial Segregation in the twentieth Century Bloomington-Normal, Mark Wyman and John W. Muirhead review the persistence of racial segregation in Illinois and the struggles of blacks and sympathetic whites to combat it. In our final article, The Decline of Decatur, longtime Illinois historian Roger Biles presents a timely account of what we today call globalization, and why its history matters so much to residents of countless Rustbelt cities like Decatur.

Volume 110 - Number 1 - Spring 2017

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VOLUME 110 OF THE JOURNAL opens with three studies of post–
World War II Illinois history. In “‘Names and Appearances are often Inde-
terminate:’ Quandaries over Identifying Jews in Chicago, 1953–1961,” Kelly
King-O’Brien examines the conversations between Chicago-based Jewish
agencies, President Eisenhower’s Committee on Government Contracts
(PCGC), and private employers accused of discriminatory practices. 
Ann Durkin Keating treats another facet of civic life that shaped the
postwar liberal order in “‘Behind the Suburban Curtain:’ The Campaign
for Open Occupancy in Naperville.” In our final article, “‘ The Dwindling
Legacy that is Food for Mice and Flames:’ Discovery and Preservation
of Illinois Historic Newspapers through the Illinois Digital Newspaper
Project, 2009–2015,” Marek Sroka and Tracy Nectoux trace the history
of newspaper preservation in Illinois up through our current digital age.  


Volume 109 – Number 4 – Winter 2016

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The Winter 2016 volume features three essays that engage histories of race, gender, and the Chicago artworld respectively. In "Days of Jubilee: Emancipation Day Celebrations in Chicago, 1853-1877," Amber Bailey documents the rich history of black activism in celebration of emancipation. In "Illumination or Illusion: Women Inventors at the 1893 World's Columbian Fair," Denise E. Pilato examines how the work of women inventors was "promoted, judged, and valued." And finally, in "From Peer to Obscurity: Julius Moessel and the Fall of an Artistic Reputation," Mark Alvey examines the career of German-born Chicago painter Julius Moessel to raise broader questions about how artistic cannons are made and who gets included in them.
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