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Volume 111 Number 4 Winter 2018

Volume 111 Number 4 Winter 2018

Mark Hubbard 0 155 Article rating: No rating

We close 2018 with three fascinating articles that illuminate the social and cultural history of Illinois in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In “Charles Dickens, Cairo, and the Panic of 1837,” Peter Pellizzari analyzes the mix of truth and myth that drove western land speculation in the lead up to the Panic of 1837. At the center of Pellizzari’s story is Darius Blake Holbrook, Cairo’s chief promoter and financier in the 1830s. The town of Cairo, and Americans like Holbrook, also served as source material for parts of Charles Dickens’ novel, The Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, first published serially in 1842–44. Pellizzari unpacks Holbrook’s career as Cairo’s preeminent booster—artfully blending truth and fiction, Holbrook induced investors to drop huge sums into Cairo land and other ventures. Holbrook’s financial schemes, of course, like castles made of sand, disintegrated in the wake of the Panic of 1837. In this way Holbrook was a real life version of Zephaniah Scudder, Dickens’ fictional land agent who dazzles Chuzzlewit with alluring images of Eden, a fictional American river town unmistakably inspired by real life Cairo, which Dickens had seen during his travels to America in 1842. Dickens’ critical relationship to antebellum American society emerges here as one important source of the British novelist’s ouvre. Also striking is Pellizzari’s convincing account of how fiction and fact—myth and reality—were deployed by boosters like Holbrook in the service of western land speculation. While the macroeconomic forces that fueled the Panic of 1837 have received much scholarly attention (and rightfully so), Pellizzari’s tale of greed, hope, allure, and illusion points to an equally important aspect of antebellum economic history: The cultural mores that sustained market transactions (and a market bubble in western land) in the years running up to the panic.

It is a commonplace that Irish labor built the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Yet few scholars have bothered to study the Irish immigrant experience in the antebellum period outside of urban contexts like Chicago or New York City, or the coal fields of Pennsylvania. What sustained Irish communities in the many small, rural towns that grew along the I&M Canal Corridor in the decades before the Civil War? In “Canal Diggers, Church Builders: Dispelling Stereotypes of the Irish on the Illinois & Michigan Canal Corridor,” Eileen McMahon examines Irish immigrant agency downstate, in towns that dot the prairie. Central to Irish immigrant life was the Catholic Church. The parish served as the focal point of a rich immigrant experience in a foreign land; as a force for communitybuilding, ethnic pride and identity, and eventual assimilation. McMahon’s study of small-town Irish community formation and the efforts to establish parishes across the Canal Corridor enlarges our understanding of the antebellum Irish experience.

Finally, we close with a study of the Depression-era collaboration between two Illinois-born artists. In “Doris and Russell Lee: A Marriage of Art,” Mary Jane Appel traces the mutually creative practices that shaped both Doris’s American Scene paintings and Russell’s work as a documentary photographer for the Farm Security Administration. As Appel demonstrates, the married couple shared a “reciprocal relationship with a fluid exchange of ideas and artistic visions.” The rural imagery that suffused the Lees’ work, of course, trace back to their Midwest and specifically Illinois roots. But Appel’s larger contribution is to establish the artists’ collaborative working methods, their creat

July - August 2018

Volume 21, No. 4

Elaine Evans 0 1046 Article rating: No rating
David Joens serves as guest editor of this issue of Illinois Heritage. His gifts of enthusiasm, professionalism, and passion for the history of our Prairie State––and most  especially his love of the architectural wonders of our Illinois statehouse––make him a splendid guide. To accomplish his task he has enlisted the help of John Lupton, director of the Illinois Supreme Court Historical Society; Mark Sorensen, past ISHS president and ex officio historian of the capitol; and illustrator William Crook Jr., who has shared one of his exquisite watercolor/pen and ink portraits of the statehouse for our cover. David also tells the story of a twelve-year collaboration between the ISHS and the Illinois House of Representatives to restore an amazing 19th-century montage that now hangs in the state capitol. The montage features individual photos of the entire 1879 House of Representatives.

Thank you for reading Illinois Heritage. Your membership and gifts keep this organization vital and relevant. We cannot serve Illinois history without you. 

May - June 2018

Volume 21, Number 3

Elaine Evans 0 1111 Article rating: No rating
The Illinois Bicentennial is now entering its fifth month. We hope you and your historical society or museum are finding significant and creative ways to celebrate and commemorate the anniversary, not just for the year, but for the future. Visit us on our website (www.historyillinois.org) and tell us what your community has planned. We’ll do our best to help you get the word out. 

In this issue of Illinois Heritage we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial, meet forgotten playwright Charles Dazey, learn how amateur historians and genealogists can change history, and sit down to lunch with Sesquicentennial Church congregations.

Share your Heritage!

Volume 109 – Number 4 – Winter 2016

Mark Hubbard 0 4213 Article rating: No rating
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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