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Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, established in 1908, is the scholarly publication of the Illinois State Historical Society. The peer-reviewed Journal welcomes articles, essays, and documents about history, literature, art technology, law, and other subjects related to Illinois and the Midwest. Submission guidelines can be found here.

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society is published quarterly and is available to everyone for purchase, discounts are included for members of the Illinois State Historical Society. Visit our Membership section for membership options and information.

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Illinois State Historical Society   |   Strawbridge-Shepherd House   |   PO Box 1800   |   Springfield, IL 62705-1800

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2020

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2020

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2020

Volume 113, Number 1


“Adaptation and Survival in the Civil War: The Experiences of a German American Soldier”
David C. Miller
German recruits represented the single largest ethnic contingent participating in the Civil War. Of the more than five hundred thousand immigrants who fought for the Union (nearly 24 percent of all northern troops), a little more than two hundred thousand of these men were Germans born abroad. Wanting to avoid the prejudices of old-stock soldiers, many preferred to enlist, whenever possible, in predominantly German fighting units. Although historians debate the extent to which the struggle either encourages or impeded assimilation, few dispute how wartime experiences produced many different reactions and altered German Americans’ perceptions of themselves and the country.

“Chicago’s Marillac House: A Case Study in Diversifying Our Understanding of the Settlement House Movement in the United States, 1914–1964”
Stella A. Ress
Until relatively recently, scholarship on America’s settlement house cultivated and then continued to confirm three common assumptions on the topic: that settlement houses were secular, catered almost exclusively to newly arrived immigrants, and were encapsulated by the time frame in and around the turn of the twentieth century. Chicago’s Hull House, America’s most famous settlement house, founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889, provides the perfect model to examine (and re-examine) these suppositions. An inquiry into one of Chicago’s other settlement house, Marillac House, however, reveals a more complex story. Marillac House provides us with another interesting example through which to expand our definitions of settlement houses and the settlement house movement in the United States. Moreover, as a single case study, Marillac House proposes to counterargument to each of the long-standing beliefs we still propagate, as it is a Catholic settlement house that has served an overwhelmingly majority African American community since the mid-1940s, and it continues to do so today.

“Romance, Rejection, and Idealism: The Illini, the Midwest, and the Peace Corps”
Douglas A. Dixon
The Peace Corps has earned its way into America’s twenty-first-century national consciousness through a long hard slog. Its documented early stories project media-hyped rugged individualism played out in remote villages and idealistic world adventure among tireless, usually young, college-educated, unmarried workers for justice and human dignity. To be sure, college students seeking to escape an uncertain, mundane world that awaited post-graduation was part of the less glorious mix. Historians have exposed many of the folklore-laden misrepresentations while exploring the more accurate, difficult to fathom accounts of the organization’s challenges and successes through the years. So much had been written several decades after President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 on March 1, 1961, creating the agency that a former Peace Corpsman turned librarian at Northern Illinois University, Robert B. Marks Ridinger, could only compile a “representative sampling of the major genres” of the Peace Corps literature. Nevertheless, even as serious scholars agree on many early pivotal historical events of the organization’s story, the Peace Corps’ soured romance with higher education is not explored sufficiently.

Book Reviews

The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History. By Libby Hill
Reviewed by Danielle Fischer

Lincoln’s Sense of Humor. By Richard Carwardine
Reviewed by William Furry

Hostile Heartland: Racism, Repression, and Resistance in the Midwest. By Brent M. S. Campney
Reviewed by Jeanne Gillespie McDonald

Unfair Labor? American Indians and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. By David R. M. Beck
Reviewed by Jane Simonsen

Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis. By Liesl Olson
Reviewed by Mark B. Pohland

Fluorspar Mining: Photos from Illinois and Kentucky, 1905–1995. By Herbert K. Russell
Reviewed by Elizabeth I. Kershisnik

Clear It with Sid: Sidney R. Yates and Fifty Years of Presidents, Pragmatism, and Public Service. By Michael C. Dorf and George Van Dusen
Reviewed by John Morello

The Revolt of the Black Athlete: 50th Anniversary Edition. By Harry Edwards
Reviewed by Jason Chatman

Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago. By David Whiteis
Reviewed by Steve Shanley

State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation. By Melissa Isaacson
Reviewed by Kyle E. Ciana


In the 19790s, Peace Corps volunteer Dennis Paradis worked as a milk production specialist in Alwar, India. Part of his job was to encourage the introduction of registered Jersey cattle into the area. In the 1960s and 1970s, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fostered a training program for Peace Corps volunteers destined to serve in India. Photo courtesy of Peace Corps.

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