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Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Summer 2019

Volume 112, Number 2

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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.    

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, 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, Spring 2017

Volume 110, Number 1

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Volume 110, No. 1 of the Journal opens with three studies of post–World War II Illinois history. In “‘Names and Appearances are often Indeterminate:’ 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 the late 1960s the Civil Rights Movement, having secured historic victories over de jure segregation in the South, set its sights on the much harder problem of de facto segregation in the North’s metropolitan areas.

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.  

 

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2016

Volume 109, Number 4

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The Winter 2016 volume features three essays that engage histories of race, gender, and the Chicago artworld respectively. In "Days of Jubilee: Emancipation Day Celebrations in Chicago, 1853-1877," Amber Bailey documents the rich history of black activism in celebration of emancipation. 

In "Illumination or Illusion: Women Inventors at the 1893 World's Columbian Fair," Denise E. Pilato examines how the work of women inventors was "promoted, judged, and valued."

And finally, in "From Peer to Obscurity: Julius Moessel and the Fall of an Artistic Reputation," Mark Alvey examines the career of German-born Chicago painter Julius Moessel to raise broader questions about how artistic cannons are made and who gets included in them.

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