A Johnny Appleseed Tree for McLean County

A Johnny Appleseed Tree for McLean...

Jeff Woodard and Bill Kemp of the McLean County Museum of History...

A Johnny Appleseed Tree for McLean County

A Johnny Appleseed Tree for McLean County

Jeff Woodard and Bill Kemp of the McLean County Museum of History plant their apple tree in Bloomington.
Frank Zajicek family farm on the west side of the Old Troy Road

Frank Zajicek family farm on the...

Members of the Zajicek family gather around the farmstead in the...

Frank Zajicek family farm on the west side of the Old Troy Road

Frank Zajicek family farm on the west side of the Old Troy Road

Members of the Zajicek family gather around the farmstead in the middle of a busy work day.
Nelson Montgomery farm

Nelson Montgomery farm

Owners Nelson and Eleanor Kindred Montgomery were among pioneer...

Nelson Montgomery farm

Nelson Montgomery farm

Owners Nelson and Eleanor Kindred Montgomery were among pioneer Madison County families and were married there in 1838.  Their home was featured in a lithograph in the 1873 Madison County Atlas and is...


Today in history


Territorial senator Nathaniel Pope introduces a bill in Congress to establish the northern boundary of Illinois to 42°30' north latitude, taking in part of the Lake Michigan shoreline.

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Are you looking for a great gift for the person who has everything or who loves history? Consider a gift membership to the Illinois State Historical Society. Stay up to date on the bicentennial happenings around Illinois. Click Message us below and include the comment "Gift Membership" or call the office (217) 525-2781 #mybicentennial #giveagiftthatkeepsongiving #perfectgift #membership

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Illinois 200 submit your events

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Are you an event organizer? Got an event you want on our Bicentennial calendar? Use the form below to submit it and after a quick review it'll be added to our events calendar. The form captures much more than just Bicentennial events though so please add any of your regular events, just select accordingly. The goal is to add events from all over the state to celebrate Illinois' rich history. Get involved and help us fill our calendar and get the word out about events in your area.

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Latest News & Upcoming Events

May-June 2015 - Chicago neighborhoods

Cities within cities-cultures and communities (Volume 18 / Number 3)

May-June 2015 - Chicago neighborhoods
On the Cover: "The Chicago Bean," symbol of the city's growth, rebirth, and regeneration. Photo courtesy City of Chicago.

This issue of Illinois Heritage is chockablock with interesting snapshots of the "City of Neighborhoods," as Chicago is sometimes known. Sherry Williams offers and account of growing up African American in the Englewood neighborhood during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. Speaking of "two Chicagos, one black, and one white, separate and unequal," Christopher Ramsey details the ups and downs of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, commonly known as Marquette Park. And Devin Hunter adapts his Laoyola University dissertation on Uptown to share with us what he's learned about on of Chicago's more intriguing neighborhoods. Just north of Uptown is Andersonville, an old Swedish neighborhood that today is home to one of the largest gay and lesbian communities in all the Midwest. Peter Ellertsen tells us about this neighborhood - then and now. Ray Hanania examines the history of Arabs - Christian and Muslim  - both in the city and suburbs. Last, William Fury takes the reader on a sensory-filled tour of Chinatown.

As always, happy reading... Bill Kemp (Guest Editor)

2016 Annual Tour Recap - From Immigrant to Elite

Photo Gallery

2016 Annual Tour Recap - From Immigrant to Elite

2016 Illinois State Historical Society annual tour, "From Immigrant to Elite," a moveable feast of sites and sounds and edible wonders in Chicago. We did it all in one day! Take a look at the photo gallery within to see all the excitement that happened and the places we visited.

Just think, less than a year till the next one!

Volume 109 - Number 2 - Summer 2016

Volume 109 - Number 2 - Summer 2016
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.

Volume 109 – Number 3 – Fall 2016

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.

Volume 109 – Number 4 – Winter 2016

Volume 109 – Number 4 – Winter 2016
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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