Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall/Winter 2021
Volume 114, Numbers 3-4
Guest Editor: Dan Monroe
We have an outstanding double-issue of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Cate LiaBraaten has written a fascinating treatment on Progressive reformers and how they viewed even minutiae such as the layout of children’s playgrounds as worthy of note. Playgrounds, Progressives believed, should include adult supervision of children’s play, ideally activities that safeguarded them from the perceived social ills rampant in urban areas. The playground movement was of broader reform efforts that touched park and landscape design.
Roger Biles describes the calamitous deindustrialization of East St. Louis, once a thriving manufacturing center located at a railroad junction for multiple routes. The resulting collapse of the tax base rendered the city’s administration unable to cope with looming bankruptcy and in 1990, the state government, under legendary governor James “Big Jim” Thompson, shepherded legislation through the General Assembly that permitted state supervision of city budgets in East St. Louis. Biles details the rationale behind that drastic loss of home rule, including the legislative machinations behind the passage of the enabling legislation, the Illinois Financially Distressed City Act, and he assesses the outcome.
Lisa R. Lindell details the life and career of another Progressive reformer, Helen M. Bennett, who spent the majority of her career in Chicago after a stint as a teacher and school superintendent in Deadwood, South Dakota. Bennett was a passionate advocate of vocational guidance, what we know today as career counseling, for women. She argued that women could embrace many different career paths beyond the standard primary or secondary education teacher, the latter a path Lindell contends had gone stale and restrictive. She found the Woman’s World Fair in the 1920s to showcase the diverse opportunities for and achievements of women.
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein gives us the quixotic 1884 congressional run of Taylorville Republican attorney James M. Taylor. A native of Scotland, Taylor arrived in Illinois a mere seven years before the outbreak of hostilities between North and South and served honorably in the war, losing an arm to a musket ball in Georgia. He subsequently earned a law license and set up practice in Taylorville, becoming a staunch Republican, but his congressional contest in 1884 faced a formidable foe in longtime Democratic incumbent, William M. Springer. Schroeder-Lein deftly recreates the race and the historical context of 1884 politics.
Finally, Patrick T. Reardon rescues the much-maligned Charles Yerkes, a hated financial baron, and salutes him for his devotion to the elevated train in Chicago and to the tube system in London.
Many thanks to the outstanding historians who are featured in this issue and to Bob Sampson whose assistance with the project was immeasurable helpful.
Slide Rules: Adults and Children on Chicago Playgrounds
Deindustrialization and the State Bailout of East S James M. Taylor Runs for Congress in 1884
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein
Rediscovering the Art of the Much-Demonized Chicago Wheeler-Dealer Charles Tyson Yerkes
Patrick T. Reardon
A City on the Move. . .or on the Make? Personal Reflections on Recent Scholarship on Chicago History
Timothy Dean Draper
The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volumes 7–11: September 1839–February 1843
The Making of the Midwest: Essays on the Formation of Midwestern Identity, 1787–1900
Edited by Jon K. Lauck
Reviewed by John E. Hallwas
Exploring the Land of Lincoln: The Essential Guide to Illinois Historic Sites
By Charles Titus
Reviewed by Mark W. Sorensen
The Tyranny of Public Discourse: Abraham Lincoln’s Six-Element Antidote for Meaningful and Persuasive Writing
By David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften
Reviewed by Teri Fuller
Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature
By Ron J. Keller
Reviewed by Robert McColley
Abraham Lincoln: A Western Legacy
By Richard W. Etulain
Reviewed by Reg Ankrom
The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy’s Great Gamble
By James E. Sherow
Reviewed by Todd Carr
Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City
By William Sites
Reviewed by Nicholas Miguel
The American Midwest in Film and Literature: Nostalgia, Violence, and Regionalism
By Adam R. Ochonicky
Reviewed by Mark B Pohlad
Technology and the Historian: Transformations in the Digital Age
By Adam Crymble
Reviewed by Michele N. Hunt
Chicago’s Mark White Square playground. Note that all the children in this photograph are girls.
Chicago Public Library, Chicago Park District Archives, Photograph 080_0012.