Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Summer–Fall 2023
Volume 116, Numbers 2–3
Thirty years ago, while plunging into the culture, society, and politics of Jacksonian America, searching for insights into those who lived those times, I encountered daguerreotypes, the first form of photography. The silvered, copperplate images stared into my eyes—a crusty John Quincy Adams, a trace of patrician superiority on his lips and eyes hungering for the next fight. Or an aged and battered Andrew Jackson, only a month or so before his death, his dimmed eyes swollen, the stiff mane of white hair and a toothless mouth signaling energy spent, but the determined line of his jaw kindling memories of January 8, 1815, as he peered over the barrier of mud and cotton bales toward the approaching British troops outside New Orleans.
Other portraits, often enclosed in metal or wood, velvet-lined cases, were equally affecting. “Regular” people—a druggist smiling as he sorted pills, an enslaved person whose face hints at both the suffering he'd seen and endured and his resilience, the young widow exuding quiet grief as she holds a daguerreotype of her late husband.
Daguerreotypes and modern photographs can be a time tunnel into the past. Each expression, a twinkling in the eyes, or the angle of glance toward the camera communicates with the present, reaching out to say, “this is who I was.” Such is the case with the two photographs on the cover of this issue—pioneer Black aviatrix Willa B. Brown and Bertha Duppler Baur, who achieved power in politics at a time when, as Finley Peter Dunne (in the voice of “Mr. Dooley”) wrote, it was “a man's game, an’ women, childer, cripples an’ prohybitionists'd do well to keep out iv it.”
Each of this issue's articles includes evocative images that reach out to those now living in times unknowable to them.
Through “Willa Beatrice Brown and Chicago's Aviation Legacy,” Theresa L. Kraus introduces us to a woman with “the right stuff” to conquer racial and gender discrimination on the ground and in the air. Sitting in the cockpit of her plane, Brown's smile radiates the confident spirit animating her life. Refusing to recognize barriers, she became a skilled pilot, helped train pilots for World War II, contributed to the Civil Air Patrol and even ran for the US Congress. Brown's activism resonates with Bertha Duppler Baur, who bursts joyously off the print, perhaps celebrating a political victory.
Michelle Killion Morahn's “When Cinderella Ran the Show: Bertha Duppler Baur,” examines the Wisconsin farm girl who began making her mark in Chicago in the final years of the nineteenth century. For many years, Baur essentially ran the US Post office in Chicago, especially in 1897 when serving as acting postmaster. Away from work, she attended night school to gain her law degree, campaigned for women's suffrage, taught financial literacy classes, and rose to leadership positions in the national and state Republican Party.
University of Illinois president J. Milton Gregory's image suggests his ability to counter opposition while achieving high goals. In “Putting New Wine in Old Wineskins: The Origins of the Founding Curriculum of the University of Illinois,” J. Gregory Behle details the political minefield Gregory traversed, reconciling differing viewpoints on the new university's mission and purpose. Gregory's ultimate victory made his university more than a trade school and continues to pay benefits to Illinois and the world.
Howard Churchill Schaub looks at us from 1913, revealing sharp, quick intelligence and eyes seeking the main chance. Clearly a young man on the rise, Schaub is a central figure in Robert E. Hartley's “Uneasy Partners: The Coming Together of Lindsay-Schaub Newspapers.” Schaub and his competitor-turned-partner, F. M. Lindsay, combined Decatur's Daily Review and Herald in 1931 to build a newspaper chain with properties in Carbondale, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, and Urbana along with the Daily Review and Morning Herald in Decatur. However, behind the façade of the first generations’ partnership, tensions arose and in the third generation, culminating in the mid-1970s, Hartley, a former editor of the chain, details what the Lindsay-Schaub chain achieved, why the owners sold, and the eventual diminution of locally owned newspapers.
Assembled on the steps of the New York Juvenile Asylum at the turn of the twentieth century, young girls and boys reflect the anxiety and hope some of them felt as well as the sadness and anticipated loss. “Illinois Bound: The Orphan Trains of the New York Juvenile Asylum” by Clark Kidder recounts the stories of these and other young people, snatched from the streets and often their parents to be transported west to Illinois and other states. Sometimes, the new homes they found achieved the NYJA's goal—reduce delinquency and crime by moving young people to allegedly better environments. For farmers, these wards could be simply cheap labor. Other transported children flourished. But for too many, the world found at the end of their journeys was harsher than the one they left behind.
The images in each article seize our attention, telling their own stories. Triumph, grief, loss, contention, persistence, ambition, and achievement approach us through the faces contained in them, revealing the human story and more facets of the “wondrous story” of Illinois.
Robert D. Sampson, Editor
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
Willa Beatrice Brown and Chicago's Aviation Legacy
Theresa L. Kraus
When Cinderella Ran the Show: Bertha Duppler Baur in Chicago
Michelle Killion Morahn
Putting New Wine in Old Wineskins: The Origins of the Founding Curriculum of the University of Illinois
J. Gregory Behle
Uneasy Partners: The Coming Together of Lindsay-Schaub Newspapers
Robert E. Hartley
Illinois Bound: The Orphan Trains of the New York Juvenile Asylum
Forgetting and the Forgotten: A Thousand Years of Contested Histories in the Heartland
Michael C. Batinski
Reviewed by Greg Koos
Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction
By Kate Masur
Reviewed by Joseph Rathke
Lincoln and Citizenship
By Mark E. Steiner
Reviewed by Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein
The Irish in Illinois
By Mathieu W. Billings
Reviewed by William P. Shannon, IV
Swedish Chicago: The Shaping of an Immigrant Community, 1880–1920
By Anita Olson Gustafson
Reviewed by Cinda Klickna
Top: Willa Brown, pioneering Chicago aviator. Source: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Bottom: Bertha Duppler Baur, one of Chicago's best-known businesswomen and a staunch Republican, was known for her elephant hats. She served as the official hostess for the three Republican National Conventions held in Chicago between 1932 and 1952. Credit: DN-0080527, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.