Sunday, February 17, 2019



1,200 students compete for special awards, chance to move forward to National Hi...

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1,200 students compete for special awards, chance to move forward to National History Day

SPRINGFIELD – Dozens of Illinois students advanced to the National History Day competition after presenting research papers, exhibits, documentaries and more at the state’s annual History Expo, where Carbondale Middle School and teacher Betsy Brown were honored with the Governor’s Award for excellence in teaching history.

In addition, Chicago’s Decatur Classical School was named the National History Day Illinois School of the Year.

More than 20 students won special awards for their work on such topics as labor history, the courts and African-Americans in Illinois.

“These students demonstrated a tremendous amount of hard work and creativity,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “Their parents and teachers – and the whole state of Illinois, for that matter – should be proud of them.”

Approximately 1,200 students competed in the Illinois History Expo on May 7. They qualified for the state event by taking part in regional history fairs. Illinois began sponsoring a student history contest some 60 years ago. It began with research papers, and exhibits were added to the contest about 10 years later.

Today, students also display their creativity and knowledge of history by producing documentaries, building websites and creating original performances.

Students who researched qualifying topics and scored high enough at the Illinois History Expo now move on to the national competition, which begins June 14 just outside Washington, D.C.

"The History Expo proves that Illinois has wonderful students and a rich heritage. Put them together and you get truly impressive results," said Amy Martin, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The expo is presented by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in partnership with the Chicago Metro History Education Center. Photos are available via Dropbox at

The special awards and the winners are:

Abraham Lincoln Association Award:

- Amoroso Parker, Quest Academy, Palatine, for the research paper “Abraham Lincoln: How His Leadership and Ingenuity Led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Legacy of a Free America.”

Elijah Lovejoy Award, Illinois Press Association:

- Lydia Taylor, Belleville West High School, Belleville, for the research paper “The Influence of Muckrakers in Illinois.”

Governor's Award:

- Carbondale Middle School, Carbondale

National History Day Illinois School of the Year:

- Decatur Classical School, Chicago

Margaret Anne Petty Genealogical/Family History Award:

- Katie Steimel, St. Mary Catholic School, DeKalb, for the website “Making Pianos in DeKalb: How One Factory Influenced a City and an Industry”

Illinois and Michigan Canal Award:

- Oscar Serratos, Oglesby Washington School, Oglesby, for the exhibit “The I & M Canal Changing History

Illinois Labor History Society Award:

- Olivia Fergus Brummer, Lane Tech Academic Center, Chicago, for a performance of “The Most Dangerous Women In America: Why the Leadership and Legacy of Mother Jones Sparked a Labor Rights Revolution”

- Steven Li, Thomas Schluckbier and Rajat Mittal, Mead Junior High School, Elk Grove V

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

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The Not So Sweet History of Sugar

Presented by Andrew F. Smith

Saturday, June 20, 2015

10 a.m. to Noon
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:

* * *

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

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

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

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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
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

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

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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

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

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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

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