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Monday, January 27, 2020

News Archive

Donation of Iconic 113 year Mansion to Boone County Historical Society

Boone County Historical Society, Belvidere

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The Boone County Historical Society (BCHS) and Boone County Museum of History (BCMH) announce K-B Farms, Inc.’s donation of the 113 year old “Funderburg House” mansion, along with a $1 million gift for long-term maintenance of the property. Over the coming months, The Funderburg House will undergo renovations and updates to eventually become a multipurpose historic house museum, rental facility, and community gathering space. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our museum, as well as our community,” says BCMH Executive Director Anna Pivoras. “We are so thankful for this generous gift from K-B Farms and the Funderburg family, and are looking forward to a bright future for the historic residence.” 

Illinois Heritage

January-February 2020, Volume 23, Number 1

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Happy New Year from the Illinois State Historical Society!

The January-February issue of Illinois Heritage—“The music issue”—ably assembled by ISHS director Bill Steinbacher-Kemp with the help of a sterling group of writers who know their Illinois music history, is a great start for the new year. Our “2020” vision for the ISHS is to make our programs and publications the best in the Midwest.

Thanks to all of you who have taken time to join or renew your 2020 membership in the Illinois State Historical Society. Our organization thrives because of your commitment to our mission of “fostering awareness, understanding, research, preservation, and recognition of history in Illinois.” As you know, membership is the glue that holds the Illinois State Historical Society together. Your personal commitment to this organization makes all the difference in what we accomplish from year to year. Thank you for all you do to make Illinois history unforgettable. 

Share your Heritage.

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Fall 2019, Vol. 112, No. 3

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Our Fall 2019 issue brings together culture and commerce, in three distinctive contexts. In “Florenz Ziegfield and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Chicago,” Susan E. Hirsch explores the rise of high culture–classical music, opera, theater, the fine arts–and its corresponding ethic of cosmopolitanism through the work of the German immigrant, Florenz Ziegfield. The talented classical pianist was one of Chicago’s busiest cultural entrepreneurs during the Gilded Age. Moreover, the city’s well-to-do took genuine pride in the cosmopolitanism that defined Ziegfield’s approach to music and culture. Ziegfield’s outlook, embracing diverse European artistic forms and traditions, fell short of the multiracial pluralism that can be said to define cosmopolitanism today. Nevertheless, Ziegfield’s story is one that blends commercial success with the emerging ethic of ethnic tolerance and cultural diversity that elite Chicagoans came to associate with their city. His legacy includes the Chicago Musical College, the first accredited conservatory in the West, and now part of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and of course, his son, Flo Ziegfield, the famous creator of the Ziegfield Follies. Indeed, the father-son duo show how entrepreneurs of both high culture and popular culture–or what today is known as show business–used commercial mechanisms to cultivate appreciation for the arts, be they lowbrow or highbrow, and in so doing make profound changes to America’s cultural landscape. Even in the face of reaction–such as the campaign for 100% Americanism during World War I and after–and despite ongoing ethnic and racial tensions, Chicago’s cosmopolitan institutions and traditions, forged by men like Ziegfield, remained a permanent fixture in the life and culture of the city.

The commercial opportunities presented by the variety of forms of popular entertainment in Chicago attracted figures less noble than the Ziegfields. In “When Chicago Went to the Dogs: Al Capone and Greyhound Racing in the Windy City, 1927-1933,” Steven A. Riess traces the fascinating history of Chicagoland dog racing and its deep connections to the city’s crime syndicates. Everyone knows Al Capone and other Chicago gangsters made a fortune in the Prohibition era through illegal bootlegging. Gangland Chicago’s connections to popular spectator sports of the era, such as boxing and horseracing, are also well documented. Far less known is Capone’s involvement in greyhound racing. Attracted to the large sums of money generated by this working-class betting sport, Capone and others in Chicago’s underworld immediately saw the financial benefit of operating greyhound race tracks. They could launder ill-gotten money through this semi-legal enterprise; they could reap betting windfalls through “the fix;” and they could enjoy the prestige and popularity associated with delivering entertainment to the city’s working class, essential to their influence over Chicagoland politicians and law enforcement officials. In the end, as Riess tells it, the race track operators lost their own bet–they failed to get approval for on-track gambling, and their political connections were of little help in keeping their tracks open permanently. The biggest loser, Riess says, was none other than Al Capone, whose indictment and conviction for tax evasion was based in part on the money he made in greyhound racing.

Our final article traces the trajectory of racial attitudes and policies in an affluent Chicago suburb. In “Race, Town, and Gown: A White Christian College and a White Suburb Address Race,” Brian J. Miller and David B. Malone summarize the evolution of Wh

Illinois Heritage

November–December 2019, Volume 22, Number 6

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The November-December issue of Illinois Heritage highlights just a few of the things your Society has been up to in recent weeks. The Centennial Business Awards luncheon was held in Jacksonville on September 14, and we had a great time visiting with the new inductees, as well as previous year’s award winners from Morgan County. Last month we took our Fall Tour to the Shawnee National Forest, where our stellar guides revealed some of the hidden treasures of southern Illinois. And on December 3 at the University of Illinois Springfield we’ll celebrate the 201st anniver-sary of statehood with our annual Illinois History Symposium commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s  suffrage. Please come spend the day with us!

As you know, membership is the glue that holds the Illinois State Historical Society together. Your personal commitment to this organization makes all the  difference in what we accomplish from year to year. Thank you for all you do to make Illinois history unforgettable. And please take time this month to renew your ISHS membership. Our future depends on what you do today.

Illinois History Symposium

Co-sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and the UIS Alumni SAGE Society

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On Tuesday, December 3, the Illinois State Historical Society hosts its annual Illinois History Symposium, in conjunction with a UIS "Lunch and Learn" program. Join us for one or all of the Symposium sessions. Morning and afternoon presentations are free to attend with complimentary snack refreshments. The Lunch and Learn program is $23/person and requires a reservation.  

2019 Illinois Centennial Awards winners honored at ISHS luncheon in Jacksonville

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On Saturday, September 14, the Illinois State Historical Society hosted its 35th annual Centennial Business Awards luncheon, this time at Jacksonville's Hamilton's Catering and banquet hall facility. The venue was most appropriate: "Doc" Hamilton started his business in 1913. This year more than 35 applicants sought Centennial status with the Society, and each received a Centennial certificate and a seat at the table.

Illinois Heritage

September–October 2019; Volume 22, Number 5

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The September–October issue of Illinois Heritage straddles a couple of centuries, with articles on the Constitutional Convention of 1870, Humanitarian Jane Addams, and the 1949 St. Anthony’s Hospital fire in Effingham. We jump forward and into the past with our interview with Leslie Goddard, an actor who interprets historical figures from three centuries. And we step outside the boundaries of Illinois for a ride on the riverboat Twilight, just to see our state from another point of view.

Thanks to all who have helped make this issue possible, contributors, donors, advertisers, letter writers, and readers. You’re the best. Share your Heritage!

Volume 112 Number 2 Summer 2019

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Our summer issue presents three essays on topics that have not received much scholarly attention. In "The African American Community in Brushy Fork, Illinois, 1818-1861," co-authors Charles Foy and Michael Bradley examine the origins and history of a small and isolated free black settlement in northern Coles County. There is a paucity of scholarship on rural free black communities before the Civil War. Digging deep into census data and the relatively sparse documentary record on Brushy Fork in the antebellum era, Foy and Bradley reconstruct life in this remote prairie settlement. Due to Illinois's discriminatory black codes, and the ever-present danger of being pursued, caught, and taken South into slavery, the people of this community lived precarious lives. However, family and kinship networks, along with Brushy Fork's remoteness, enabled its people to create and maintain a fragile autonomy, at least partially free from white control, on the east central Illinois prairie. 

Just as scholarship on antebellum African Americans is heavily biased toward urban areas, so too the study of institutions designed to address poverty in the nineteenth century. In "Life on the Morgan County, Illinois Poor Farm: Christian Benevolence in Early Social Services," Joe Squillace focuses on the history and treatment of the poor in a rural, west central Illinois setting. To be sure, normative ideas of Christian benevolence undergirded the efforts to build institutions that could serve the poor in Morgan County. Jacksonville, the county seat and location for the county poorhouse, was also home to several state institutions that served what many at the time considered the deserving poor. Sometimes this outlook led to efforts to control the lives and movements of the marginalized, so-called undeserving population, as some scholars of nineteenth century poor releif have argued. Squillace's fascinating research uncovers the many ways in which the poorhouse served as a safety net of last resort , where the poor and afflicted, of whatever background or circumstance, turned to for help and from which they received relatively enlightened care by standards of that day. For this reason, Squillace suggests, the Morgan County poorhouse "was a predecessor institution to later developments in institutional care" and later social welfare. 

Finally, in "Annabel Carey-Prescott: African American Educator and Chicago Leader," John S. Burger traces the history of this neglected pioneer in human relations education. Born to an affluent black family, Carey-Prescott excelled in a career that spanned four decades, as both a teacher and administrator in Chicago public schools. Burger documents how her idea to introduce human relations concepts into the classroom was first inspired by her travels to Europe, then later sharpened as she pursued Ph.D. work in education back in America. Of course, Carey-Prescott's innovative curriculum didn't solve Chicago's racial problems. But such a conclusion underestimates the value of Carey-Prescott's work and contribution to Chicago's black community, including its poorest members, from the 1920s to the 1950s.    

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