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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

12/12/1922

Illinois voters reject a proposal submitted by the Constitutional Convention. It would be almost 50 years before the state would adopt a new Constitution.

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Historical Markers

Since 1934, the Illinois State Historical Society has erected more than 500 historical markers statewide. Subjects of historical significance to Illinois are co-sponsored by local organizations and supporters. The Illinois State Historical Society coordinates the placement and management of historical markers throughout the state.

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Submit your Bicentennial event

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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    Please use the form below to submit your article/event for consideration to be added to the Illinois State Historical Society website.  Upon review it, you will be emailed the status of the article and possibly asked for additional information.  If approved we will post your article on our news roll and/or calendar of events.

    Please do not use this form to submit or follow-up on submissions for the Illinois Heritage or Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Instead visit the links below for the correct information.

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Latest News & Upcoming Events

Happy birthday, Illinois State Historical Society!! On this date in 1899, the Il...

Happy birthday, Illinois State Historical Society!!
On this date in 1899, the Illinois State Historical Society was established in Urbana, Illinois, by professional and amateur historians, archaeologists, doctors and lawyers, librarians and researchers, and civic-minded individuals who wanted to preserve, protect, and promote the history of the Prairie State. The Society set up its headquarters in Springfield the following year and has been the premiere not-for-profit advocate for Illinois history ever since.
Today the Society kicked off its 116th birthday celebration by announcing the establishment of the Third Century Fund, an endowment-building campaign to secure the Society's future for the next 100 years.
Longtime ISHS friends and supporters Rand and Pat Burnette invited ISHS Development Officer Tara Winters and Executive Director William Furry to their Jacksonville home today to present the Society with a $20,000 gift to support the Third Century Fund, and to kick off the endowment campaign.
Rand Burnette, president of the Society from 2001-2003, is professor of history emeritus from MacMurray College (he also taught at Carthage College, both in Carthage, Illinois and Kenosha, Wisconsin). Pat taught at MacMurray College and at Illinois College, and has an article published in the current Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.
The Society's Third Century Fund is dedicated to see that the Society continues to fulfill its mission to "foster awareness, understanding, research, preservation, and recognition of history in Illinois." The Society is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization sustained solely by its membership and programs, and through donations and grants from corporations and individuals like you. To find out how you can support the Society's mission, make a donation, bequest, of otherwise contribute to the cause, call 217-525-2781 and ask for Tara.
HISTORY MATTERS EVERY DAY.

Photo caption: ISHS Development Officer Tara Winter with Pat and Rand Burnette, founding contributors to the Society's Third Century Fund. Photo by William Furry.


Music in the parlor of the Historic Edwards Place Among the treasures in the His...

Music in the parlor of the Historic Edwards Place
Among the treasures in the Historic Edwards Place collection are a set of music books dating to the 1830s and 1850s that belonged to Helen Edwards and her daughter Helen Maria. The songs in these books once filled the parlors of Edwards Place with music at glittering legislative parties when Abraham Lincoln was a guest. Now, the Springfield Art Association is thrilled to bring that music to life once more with a concert in the parlors of Edwards Place. The Wild Columbines will play and sing music from the Edwards’s music books and explain its historical significance at a special concert in the parlors of Edwards Place.
Friday, May 29, 7 pm • $10
Call 217-523-2631


A Memorial Day memory of an Illinois teenager in the chaos of Pearl Harbor By D...

A Memorial Day memory of an Illinois teenager in the chaos of Pearl Harbor

By Dr. Mark DePue, Director of Oral History
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Charles Sehe grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Depression-era Geneva, Illinois. He learned early on to make do with what he had; survival depended on ingenuity and hustle. Money was always tight in the Sehe household, but Charles’ mother was determined that at least one of her six children would complete high school, and she fastened that dream on him.

Charles achieved his mother’s dream, graduating from Geneva High in 1940 before enlisting in the Navy. After basic training, his class was divided into two equal groups of 55 each; the first group was assigned to the USS Arizona. Sehe, number 56, and the rest of his class were sent to Bremerton, Washington, where the USS Nevada was undergoing repairs while in drydock.

Sehe’s initial battle station was one of the ship’s 5-inch guns, but after the slight-framed kid from Geneva dropped a couple of 5-inch rounds during a drill, he was reassigned. As fate would have it, his new station was high up on the Nevada’s mast, manning one of the ship’s searchlights.

A few months later, on a lazy Sunday morning in December, 1941, both the Arizona and Nevada were moored along battleship row in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as were several other battleships and most of the Pacific fleet. Sehe’s plan for the weekend had been to take liberty on Saturday and see the town with a buddy assigned to the USS Arizona, then spend the night on that battleship. But once again fate intervened. Sehe was caught drying out his laundry in front of an exhaust fan, and drew three days kitchen duty for the minor infraction.

So it was that he was pulling kitchen duty on the USS Nevada on the morning of December 7th. “Seven o’clock, I got breakfast. Seven-thirty, I went to the head,” recounted Sehe during a recent oral history interview. “After the head, [I] washed up, getting ready for meals, you know? … Then the four or five of us in the head were sitting around, and all of a sudden, it jarred [us], boom! And I said, ‘Oh, they’re practicing fire. I ran to my battle station and oh my God, it was just unbelievable.”

What Sehe had felt was a Japanese torpedo slamming into the side of the Nevada. What he saw from his battle station was a harbor in chaos, with wave after wave of Japanese aircraft coming at them from all directions.

Here is how Sehe described what he saw that day from the ship’s mast in a letter to family members written 50 years later:

“The Nevada, with some of its boilers already lit on standby, got up enough steam pressure to get underway. As the ship slowly eased its way into the channel, passing the Arizona, a tremendous fiery explosion ripped the Arizona apart, showering the open deck crews of the Nevada with hot, searing, metallic debris, burning many of them to death.”

“I watched a second wave of high-level dive bombers now concentrating their efforts on the Nevada as we slowly proceeded up the channel, and heard cheers coming from crews of other ships, encouraging us onward,” his letter continued. “Although there were many near misses, as indicated by numerous waterspouts, numerous bombs made their mark and severely damaged the forecastle bridge and the boat deck area. The Nevada was given orders to beach itself so as to avoid blocking the channel to prevent other ships from entering or leaving.”

Sehe stayed with the Nevada for the rest of the war. After it was rebuilt and up-gunned, the venerable old battleship and the young man from Geneva saw plenty more action, including at the Aleutians, Utah Beach, the invasion of southern France, plus Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Charles Sehe, now 92 and living in Minnesota, still finds it difficult to share his memories of the Pearl

From our friends at the Bloomington Pantagraph and McLean County Museum Archivis...

From our friends at the Bloomington Pantagraph and McLean County Museum Archivist Bill Kemp.
Illinois State Historical Society: Where History Never Gets Old


PFOP: Lightning menace to man and beast, past and present
www.pantagraph.com
On May 20, 1897, a heavy afternoon shower accompanied by a “brilliant electrical display” passed through the Lexington area, catching 18-year-old John Hays in open country upon a horse and

The Not So Sweet History of Sugar Presented by Andrew F. Smith Author/Editor...

The Not So Sweet History of Sugar

Presented by Andrew F. Smith
Author/Editor

Saturday, June 20, 2015

10 a.m. to Noon
At
Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts
900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago
(Located just north of W. Chicago Ave. at N. Halsted St.)
Free Parking (north parking lot across the street, but not in front, please!)



Sugar has been on our minds for millennia. First cultivated in New Guinea around ten thousand years ago, and extremely expensive until the Industrial Revolution, this addictive sweetener has come to dominate our appetites-whether in candy, desserts, soft drinks, processed food, or even pasta sauces. Sugar's past is chock-full of determined adventurers: relentless sugar barons and plantation owners who worked alongside plant breeders, food processors, distributors, and politicians to build a business based on our cravings. In both the sugarcane and sugar beet industries, men have made fortunes and met their demise, all because of sugar's simple but profound hold on our palettes. Andrew F. Smith will discuss the history of this simultaneously beloved and reviled ingredient, holding its incredible value as a global commodity up against its darker legacies of slavery and health issues, including obesity and diabetes.

Biography: Andrew F. Smith, a frequent speaker for the Culinary Historians of Chicago, is the author or editor of twenty-six books, including his latest Sugar: A Global History (Reaktion, April 2015). He serves as the editor for the "Edible Series" and the "Food Controversies Series" at Reaktion Books in the United Kingdom. Mr. Smith was also the editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. He has written more than five hundred articles in academic journals, popular magazines and newspapers, and has served as a consultant to several television series, including the recent six-episode series, "Eat: The Story of Food," that aired on the National Geographic Channel in the fall of 2014. For more about him, visit his website: www.andrewfsmith.com

* * *

Cost of the program is $5, $3 for students and no charge for CHC members and Kendall students and faculty.


Andrew F. Smith
andrewfsmith.com
Andrew F. Smith writes books about food and food history.
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