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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.

To purchase individual issues please contact our office.

2018 ISHS Annual Awards Winners

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2019

Volume 112 Number 1

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We open 2019 with three articles addressing murder, politics, and ethnoreligious identity in Illinois. In "Untouchable: Joseph Smith's Use of the Law as a Catalyst for Assassination," Alex Smith offers a fine-grained analysis of the Mormon prophet's understanding- and misunderstanding- of key legal concepts leading up to his murder at a Carthage, Illinois jail in 1844. 

Like the histroy of Joseph Smith and anti-mormonism, antislavery politics has generated a rich and variegated historiography. In "Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men: The Origins of the Republican Party in DuPage County, Illinois," Stephen Buck synthesizes many of the widely accepted explanations for the Republican Party's emergence in the 1850s, including the powerful ideal of free-soil in the trans-Mississippi West; opposition to the political clout of the "Slave Power" nationally; and genuine moral committments to the abolition of Slavery. 

Always a city of immigrants, Chicago has rightfully served as a key focus for a wide-ranging body of scholarship on the immigrant experience in America. Oddly, however, the French, the first Europeans to see and settle the area, have largely faded from view in histories of immigrant Chicago. Daniel Snow sheds much needed light on the French-American experience in the Windy City in "Of Three Nations: Devotion and Community in French-American Chicago, 1850-1950."

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2018

Volume 111, Number 4

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We close 2018 with three fascinating articles that illuminate the social and cultural history of Illinois in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In “Charles Dickens, Cairo, and the Panic of 1837,” Peter Pellizzari analyzes the mix of truth and myth that drove western land speculation in the lead up to the Panic of 1837. At the center of Pellizzari’s story is Darius Blake Holbrook, Cairo’s chief promoter and financier in the 1830s. The town of Cairo, and Americans like Holbrook, also served as source material for parts of Charles Dickens’ novel, The Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, first published serially in 1842–44. 

It is a commonplace that Irish labor built the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Yet few scholars have bothered to study the Irish immigrant experience in the antebellum period outside of urban contexts like Chicago or New York City, or the coal fields of Pennsylvania. In “Canal Diggers, Church Builders: Dispelling Stereotypes of the Irish on the Illinois & Michigan Canal Corridor,” Eileen McMahon examines Irish immigrant agency downstate, in towns that dot the prairie. 

Finally, we close with a study of the Depression-era collaboration between two Illinois-born artists. In “Doris and Russell Lee: A Marriage of Art,” Mary Jane Appel traces the mutually creative practices that shaped both Doris’s American Scene paintings and Russell’s work as a documentary photographer for the Farm Security Administration. 

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall 2018

Volume 111, Number 3

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For the Fall 2018 issue of the Journal we return to our usual quarterly format. In "Setting the Northern Border of Illinois," longtime Illinois chronicler David W. Scott offers a refurbished account of the boundary disputes that led to the creation of the State of Illinois. Scott surveys the history of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance and the subsequent efforts by territorial leaders to set the current boundaries of the Old Northwest. From the Vantage point of 200 years, it is clear that Nathaniel W. Pope, Illinois Territory's delegate to Congress in 1817, was the leading force behind the statehood bill that pushed the northern boundary of Illinois a full sixty miles north of what the Northwest Ordinance originally called for. Had Pope failed to gain any Lake Michigan shoreline for Illinois, today Chicago and the collar counties would all be in Wisconsin, and Illinois' economic and demographic profile more like modern day Iowa or Kansas. 

The next two articles examine aspects of twentieth century liberalism and its shortcomings. In "Shelter Men': Life in Chicago's Public Shelters during the Great Depression," Chris Wright offers a spirited assessment of New Deal era public relief in Chicago. Wright's fine-grained case study reveals the limitations of municipal relief policy during the Great Depression and how the men responded to the many exigencies and indignities of shelter life. In telling this story, Wright emphasizes the class-conscious agency and essential humanity of the shelter men, as they negotiated and resisted the worst facets of being homeless---or "bums," as the conservative Chicago Tribune labeled them. 

Finally, in "All the Way with Adlai: John Bartlow Martin and the 1952 Adlai Stevenson Campaign," Ray E. Boomhower offers a detailed, behind-the-scenes account of the freelance journalist's role as speechwriter for the 1952 Adlai Stevenson presidential campaign. Boomhower tells the story of Martin's political coming of age as a New Frontier or Great Society liberal Democrat; before 1952, Martin's award-winning journalism was free of partisan calculations or commitments. Yet as it turned out, the subjects of Martin's earlier freelance career---America's underprivileged and forgotten classes---became increasingly central to the policy agenda of postwar liberalism. Boomhower's engaging narrative thus takes us back to a formative moment in the history of the Democratic Party. 


 



 

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring/Summer 2018

Volume 111, Number 1-2

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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.


 

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall/Winter 2017

Volume 110, Numbers 3-4

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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. 

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