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Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Fall 2019, Vol. 112, No. 3

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Our Fall 2019 issue brings together culture and commerce, in three distinctive contexts. In “Florenz Ziegfield and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Chicago,” Susan E. Hirsch explores the rise of high culture–classical music, opera, theater, the fine arts–and its corresponding ethic of cosmopolitanism through the work of the German immigrant, Florenz Ziegfield. The talented classical pianist was one of Chicago’s busiest cultural entrepreneurs during the Gilded Age. Moreover, the city’s well-to-do took genuine pride in the cosmopolitanism that defined Ziegfield’s approach to music and culture. Ziegfield’s outlook, embracing diverse European artistic forms and traditions, fell short of the multiracial pluralism that can be said to define cosmopolitanism today. Nevertheless, Ziegfield’s story is one that blends commercial success with the emerging ethic of ethnic tolerance and cultural diversity that elite Chicagoans came to associate with their city. His legacy includes the Chicago Musical College, the first accredited conservatory in the West, and now part of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and of course, his son, Flo Ziegfield, the famous creator of the Ziegfield Follies. Indeed, the father-son duo show how entrepreneurs of both high culture and popular culture–or what today is known as show business–used commercial mechanisms to cultivate appreciation for the arts, be they lowbrow or highbrow, and in so doing make profound changes to America’s cultural landscape. Even in the face of reaction–such as the campaign for 100% Americanism during World War I and after–and despite ongoing ethnic and racial tensions, Chicago’s cosmopolitan institutions and traditions, forged by men like Ziegfield, remained a permanent fixture in the life and culture of the city.

The commercial opportunities presented by the variety of forms of popular entertainment in Chicago attracted figures less noble than the Ziegfields. In “When Chicago Went to the Dogs: Al Capone and Greyhound Racing in the Windy City, 1927-1933,” Steven A. Riess traces the fascinating history of Chicagoland dog racing and its deep connections to the city’s crime syndicates. Everyone knows Al Capone and other Chicago gangsters made a fortune in the Prohibition era through illegal bootlegging. Gangland Chicago’s connections to popular spectator sports of the era, such as boxing and horseracing, are also well documented. Far less known is Capone’s involvement in greyhound racing. Attracted to the large sums of money generated by this working-class betting sport, Capone and others in Chicago’s underworld immediately saw the financial benefit of operating greyhound race tracks. They could launder ill-gotten money through this semi-legal enterprise; they could reap betting windfalls through “the fix;” and they could enjoy the prestige and popularity associated with delivering entertainment to the city’s working class, essential to their influence over Chicagoland politicians and law enforcement officials. In the end, as Riess tells it, the race track operators lost their own bet–they failed to get approval for on-track gambling, and their political connections were of little help in keeping their tracks open permanently. The biggest loser, Riess says, was none other than Al Capone, whose indictment and conviction for tax evasion was based in part on the money he made in greyhound racing.

Our final article traces the trajectory of racial attitudes and policies in an affluent Chicago suburb. In “Race, Town, and Gown: A White Christian College and a White Suburb Address Race,” Brian J. Miller and David B. Malone summarize the evolution of Wh

Volume 112 Number 2 Summer 2019

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Our summer issue presents three essays on topics that have not received much scholarly attention. In "The African American Community in Brushy Fork, Illinois, 1818-1861," co-authors Charles Foy and Michael Bradley examine the origins and history of a small and isolated free black settlement in northern Coles County. There is a paucity of scholarship on rural free black communities before the Civil War. Digging deep into census data and the relatively sparse documentary record on Brushy Fork in the antebellum era, Foy and Bradley reconstruct life in this remote prairie settlement. Due to Illinois's discriminatory black codes, and the ever-present danger of being pursued, caught, and taken South into slavery, the people of this community lived precarious lives. However, family and kinship networks, along with Brushy Fork's remoteness, enabled its people to create and maintain a fragile autonomy, at least partially free from white control, on the east central Illinois prairie. 

Just as scholarship on antebellum African Americans is heavily biased toward urban areas, so too the study of institutions designed to address poverty in the nineteenth century. In "Life on the Morgan County, Illinois Poor Farm: Christian Benevolence in Early Social Services," Joe Squillace focuses on the history and treatment of the poor in a rural, west central Illinois setting. To be sure, normative ideas of Christian benevolence undergirded the efforts to build institutions that could serve the poor in Morgan County. Jacksonville, the county seat and location for the county poorhouse, was also home to several state institutions that served what many at the time considered the deserving poor. Sometimes this outlook led to efforts to control the lives and movements of the marginalized, so-called undeserving population, as some scholars of nineteenth century poor releif have argued. Squillace's fascinating research uncovers the many ways in which the poorhouse served as a safety net of last resort , where the poor and afflicted, of whatever background or circumstance, turned to for help and from which they received relatively enlightened care by standards of that day. For this reason, Squillace suggests, the Morgan County poorhouse "was a predecessor institution to later developments in institutional care" and later social welfare. 

Finally, in "Annabel Carey-Prescott: African American Educator and Chicago Leader," John S. Burger traces the history of this neglected pioneer in human relations education. Born to an affluent black family, Carey-Prescott excelled in a career that spanned four decades, as both a teacher and administrator in Chicago public schools. Burger documents how her idea to introduce human relations concepts into the classroom was first inspired by her travels to Europe, then later sharpened as she pursued Ph.D. work in education back in America. Of course, Carey-Prescott's innovative curriculum didn't solve Chicago's racial problems. But such a conclusion underestimates the value of Carey-Prescott's work and contribution to Chicago's black community, including its poorest members, from the 1920s to the 1950s.    

Volume 112 Number 1 Spring 2019

Volume 112 Number 1 Spring 2019

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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. The assassination of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum has been, of course, the subject of a considerable historiography. Alex Smith Sees the Mormon prophet's use (and abuse, if contemporaries are to be taken at their word) of his legal powers as yet another key force driving the mob's anger that fateful day in Carthage.

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. DuPage COunty, in Buck's retelling, serves as a sort of case study in the steady growth of free-soil principles in northern Illinois beginning in the 1840s. Buck finds that by the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, the sectional crisis was so encompassing that it deeply inscribed party identification, even in elections to town and county offices. 

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 se 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." By practicing their Catholic faith in their new homeland, building voluntary associations, and mounting street festivals and parades, French immigrants to Chicago staked claims to visibility and citizenship, while synthesizing to tri-partite identity rooted in the distinctive cultural traditions of Old World France, French Quebec, and their newly adopted home in the United States.

Articles

"Untouchable: Joseph Smth's Use of the Law"
Alex D. Smith

"Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Origins of the Republican Party in DuPage County, Illinois"
Stephen J. Buck

"Of Three Nations: Devotion and Community in Frech-American Chicago, 1850-1950"
Daniel Snow

Review Essay

"Ungovernable Chicago?"
Gregory L. Schneider

Book Reviews

Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln. By George R. Dekle, Sr.
Reviewed by Eric Mogren

Free Spirits: Spritualism, Republicansim, Republicanism, and Radicalism in the Civil War. By Mark A. Lause.
Reviewed by Francesca Morgan

National Parks Beyond the Nation: Global Perspectives on "America's Best Idea." Edited by Adrian Howkins, Jared Orsi, and Mark Fiege
Reviewed by Paul Gulezian

From Warren Center

Volume 111 - Number 1–2 - Spring/Summer 2018

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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.



Volume 110 - Number 1 - Spring 2017

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VOLUME 110 OF THE JOURNAL opens with three studies of post–
World War II Illinois history. In “‘Names and Appearances are often Inde-
terminate:’ Quandaries over Identifying Jews in Chicago, 1953–1961,” Kelly
King-O’Brien examines the conversations between Chicago-based Jewish
agencies, President Eisenhower’s Committee on Government Contracts
(PCGC), and private employers accused of discriminatory practices. 
Ann Durkin Keating treats another facet of civic life that shaped the
postwar liberal order in “‘Behind the Suburban Curtain:’ The Campaign
for Open Occupancy in Naperville.” In our final article, “‘ The Dwindling
Legacy that is Food for Mice and Flames:’ Discovery and Preservation
of Illinois Historic Newspapers through the Illinois Digital Newspaper
Project, 2009–2015,” Marek Sroka and Tracy Nectoux trace the history
of newspaper preservation in Illinois up through our current digital age.  


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