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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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Illinois Heritage

January-February 2020, Volume 23, Number 1

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Happy New Year from the Illinois State Historical Society!

The January-February issue of Illinois Heritage—“The music issue”—ably assembled by ISHS director Bill Steinbacher-Kemp with the help of a sterling group of writers who know their Illinois music history, is a great start for the new year. Our “2020” vision for the ISHS is to make our programs and publications the best in the Midwest.

Thanks to all of you who have taken time to join or renew your 2020 membership in the Illinois State Historical Society. Our organization thrives because of your commitment to our mission of “fostering awareness, understanding, research, preservation, and recognition of history in Illinois.” As you know, membership is the glue that holds the Illinois State Historical Society together. Your personal commitment to this organization makes all the difference in what we accomplish from year to year. Thank you for all you do to make Illinois history unforgettable. 

Share your Heritage.

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

Forgotten Illinois

Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists and the North Shore Art League

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The Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists (CAVA) and the North Shore Art League (NSAL) are excited to announce their second joint summer-themed show, Forgotten Illinois. We are seeking works of art--paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, fiber art, mixed media, sculpture and ceramics--that tell a story, interpret an event, or reveal new insights about Illinois history from a 21st century perspective.

March - April 2019

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This issue of Illinois Heritage is another gift from our sterling contributors. John Hallwas’s beautiful tribute to Virginia Eifert gave us an opportunity to put her portrait as a five-year-old writer on the cover. Mark Flotow revisits Illinois’ Civil War camps and shares how the soldiers who served there remembered their wartime experiences. Kathleen Spaltro takes us to Preston Sturges’ “City of My Dreams” in a fascinating profile of a renowned filmmaker’s coming of age in Chicago, and Mike Kienzler explores hidden art in plain sight in Menard County.

On April 26, the Illinois State Historical Society invites all friends of Prairie State history to join us in Petersburg for the ISHS’s 120th annual meeting, a celebration of the BEST OF ILLINOIS HISTORY and the 100th anniversary of the re-establishing of the village of New Salem and the creation of the state historic site. This event includes the Annual Awards Banquet, as well as a guided afternoon tour of the park. Look for details in this issue of Illinois Heritage and on our webpage, http://www.historyillinois.org.

January - February 2019

Volume 22, Number 1

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The Illinois bicentennial commemoration wrapped up for the Illinois State Historical society with our 2018 History Symposium on December 3 at the University of Illinois Springfield. Many thanks to our excellent speakers––Michael Wiant, Bill Kemp, Devin Hunter, and Bob Sampson––for donating their time and  talents to the program. 

This year brings us another anniversay to celebrate: the 120th anniversary of the ISHS, which was organized on May 19, 1899. The Society continues to be the leading advocate for the promotion of historical research and understanding of our Prairie State history. With our dedicated Board of Directors, Advisors, and staff we seek to expand the reach of our organization into every home in the state of Illinois and beyond, but that kind of mission requires the participation of every member of the Society too. Please do your part by renewing your membership (if you have not already done so), and by sharing our publications and programs with Illinois history advocates in your community. Consider sponsoring a public library membership, nominating a community museum exhibit or local history author for an award, or sharing news of a historical event in your hometown. We all learn when we share our history. 
 

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