VOLUME 111 NO. 1-2 is our second consecutive double-issue commemorates Illinois’ 200th anniversary of statehood. For those of us laboring in the historical profession and cognate fields—academically affiliated scholars and their students, unaffiliated scholars and researchers, public historians, museum professionals, archivists and librarians, and the like—anniversaries are moments to reflect upon disciplinary practice. They are, in other words, splendid occasions to reckon with the past, take stock of the present, and imagine the future. The last two major anniversaries of Illinois statehood—the centennial and sesquicentennial—produced landmark works of state history that collectively established the main contours of scholarship on the Prairie State well into the twentieth century. (These works, and our intellectual debts to them, are identified in the articles that follow.) The current issue of the Journal, “Illinois History: A Bicentennial Appraisal,” is offered in the same spirit. We seek to highlight the connections between the past—the history of this land called Illinois; the present—the current state of professional history about this land; and the future—how we might fruitfully reframe and re-present this land’s history moving forward. The first six essays offer insightful surveys of recent trends in historical scholarship on Illinois from the colonial era to the very recent past. The historiographical essays mark the most important developments in historical scholarship on Illinois over the last thirty years or so, a necessary first-step in generating new research agendas and ultimately new narratives. The final two essays examine the practice of public history in Illinois, as it stands today. The cautionary lessons learned from museum professionals and other practitioners of public history—declining public investments, conflicting political agendas, the growing role of local initiative, and most crucially, greater reliance on private resources—should alert us all to the need for an historical practice that informs, connects, and enriches diverse audiences and stakeholders.
VOLUME 110 NOS 3-4 OF THE JOURNAL features a collection of seven essays in honor of the Illinois statehood bicentennial in 2018 written by both emerging and seasoned scholars. Christopher Schnell looks at very early Illinois legal history and the conflict of opinions on the nature of property law between lawyers and squatters in "Lawyers, Squatters, and the Transformation of the Public Domain in Early-Statehood Illinois." In ""You have been the soldiers friend or we dare not appeal to you": The Papers of Illinois Governor Richard Yates as a Window on Civil War Medicine," Glena Schroeder-Lein examines the medical concerns of Illinois soldiers and their loved ones as representative of civil war care generally. In "Fields of Battle: The Problem of Base Ball Playing Space in Post-Civil War Illinois," Robert Sampson studies comparative urban dynamics in the 1860's as the leaders of Springfield and Bloomington determined, in contrasting ways, where the sport could be played in their cities. David Joens's study of Illinois' colored conventions in the 1880's titled "Illinois Colored Conventions of 1880s," determines them to have been more successful than previous African American conventions in the state. Moving into the twentieth century, Denise Johnson in, "Central Illinois Women Who Served in the Military During World War II," uses interviews with eight central Illinois women to recount not only their experiences in the World War II military experiences, but also the life-long importance to them of work. Mark DePue traces the development of sentiment for the 1980s constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the Illinois legislature through the abolition of cumulative voting in, "The Cutback Amendment of 1980: Unintended Consequences of Pat Quinn's Reforming Zeal". Lastly, Robert Hartley in, "Alan Dixon and Paul Simon: Like Brothers, They Did Not Always Agree or Win," examines the friendship of two very different Illinois politicians.
The summer 2016 issue features three stimulating essays on mid-nineteenth century Illinois politics. In "Extradition, the Mormons, and the Election of 1843," Andrew H. Hedges offers a new interpretation of the Mormons' surprising support of Joseph P. Hoge, the 1843 Democratic candidate for U.S. representative in Illinois' sixth congressional district. That decision was fraught with enormous consequence. In the wake of the Mormon vote for the Democrat Hoge, the area's Whig Party turned against the religious group, a momentous shift in local attitudes that spawned conflict and eventual expulsion of the Mormons out of western Illinois.
Brent M. Rodgers examines another dimension of Mormon politics in Illinois in his "'Armed men are coming from the state of Missouri': Federalism, Interstate Affairs, and Joseph Smith's Final Attempt to Secure Federal Intervention in Nauvoo." Rogers examines the constitutional and political theory behind Joseph Smith's letter to President John Tyler, written just seven days before his murder, pleading for federal intervention in behalf of the beleaguered religionists at Nauvoo.
In the issue's final article, "A Copperhead in Quincy Goes to Washington: Senator William A. Richardson," Shawn Hale adds to our knowledge and understanding of the Copperhead opposition that dogged Lincoln throughout the Civil War. Focusing on Richardson's many published speeches, Hale produces a refurbished and updated analysis of the Illinois Democrat's political thought. Richardson, argues Hale, is best seen as a "romantic conservative" whose commitment to the Constitution 'as it was' left him ill equipped in the face of revolutionary changes to federal authority and black freedom wrought by the Civil War.
IN 1963, DURING THE HEIGHT of the Civil War centennial, the Illinois State Historical Society published a special issue of its journal to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The articles in the issue covered a wide range of topics related to African American history in Illinois up to the Civil War era. Although the ISHS had published articles on Illinois African American history through the years, a special issue devoted exclusively to the top was deemed appropriate.
As the sesquicentennial of both the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment draws to a close, it is no less appropriate to devote a special issue of this journal to African American history in Illinois. In hist second inaugural address Lincoln said that all knew that slavery somehow was the cause of the Civil War. To commemorate and remember the war without discussing slavery and the broader questions of African American citizenship and participation in society would be wrong. And so, I am happy to present six outstanding articles covering a variety of topics on Illinois African American history.