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 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.
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.
This issue offers three articles covering diverse aspects of Illinois' history. In "Illinois Germans and the Coming of the Civil War: Reshaping Ethnic Identity," Christina Bearden-White uses German-language sources to examine the complex issue of German identity in the Prairie State during the mid-nineteenth century. Ian Rocksborough-Smith's article, "'I had gone in there thinking I was going to be a cultural worker': Richard Durham, Oscar Brown, Jr. and the United Packinghouse Workers Association in Chicago," presents a fascinating analysis of the Cold War-era careers of Oscar Brown, Jr. and Richard Durham, two prominent Chicago-based African American political activists. Finally, Michael Sublett's "Downstate: Illinois' Peripheral Other," presents the etymology of that well-known Prairie State term. Employing the categories of core and periphery, which rose to prominence in social science and historical writing during the 1970s, Sublett traces the evolution and application of the downstate moniker.
The summer 2016 issue features three stimulating essays on mid-nineteenth century Illinois politics. In "Extradition, the Mormons, and the Election of 1843," Andrew H. Hedges offers a new interpretation of the Mormons' surprising support of Joseph P. Hoge, the 1843 Democratic candidate for U.S. representative in Illinois' sixth congressional district. That decision was fraught with enormous consequence. In the wake of the Mormon vote for the Democrat Hoge, the area's Whig Party turned against the religious group, a momentous shift in local attitudes that spawned conflict and eventual expulsion of the Mormons out of western Illinois.
Brent M. Rodgers examines another dimension of Mormon politics in Illinois in his "'Armed men are coming from the state of Missouri': Federalism, Interstate Affairs, and Joseph Smith's Final Attempt to Secure Federal Intervention in Nauvoo." Rogers examines the constitutional and political theory behind Joseph Smith's letter to President John Tyler, written just seven days before his murder, pleading for federal intervention in behalf of the beleaguered religionists at Nauvoo.
In the issue's final article, "A Copperhead in Quincy Goes to Washington: Senator William A. Richardson," Shawn Hale adds to our knowledge and understanding of the Copperhead opposition that dogged Lincoln throughout the Civil War. Focusing on Richardson's many published speeches, Hale produces a refurbished and updated analysis of the Illinois Democrat's political thought. Richardson, argues Hale, is best seen as a "romantic conservative" whose commitment to the Constitution 'as it was' left him ill equipped in the face of revolutionary changes to federal authority and black freedom wrought by the Civil War.