In 1963, during the height of the Civil War centennial, the Illinois State Historical Society published a special issue of its journal to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The articles in the issue covered a wide range of topics related to African American history in Illinois up to the Civil War era. Although the ISHS had published articles on Illinois African American history through the years, a special issue devoted exclusively to the top was deemed appropriate.
As the sesquicentennial of both the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment draws to a close, it is no less appropriate to devote a special issue of this journal to African American history in Illinois. In his second inaugural address Lincoln said that all knew that slavery somehow was the cause of the Civil War. To commemorate and remember the war without discussing slavery and the broader questions of African American citizenship and participation in society would be wrong. And so, I am happy to present six outstanding articles covering a variety of topics on Illinois African American history.