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A Bicentennial Commemorative of the Prairie State

A Bicentennial Commemorative of the Prairie State

Readings from the "Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society"

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Edited by David W. Scott, with a foreword by Leah Joy Axelrod


440 pages, 6 x 9, 18 illustrations


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About the Book

Culled from the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society’s 110-year archive of scholarship, this curated volume of more than thirty articles offers insights into the colorful episodes, meaningful events, and significant characters in the rich history of Illinois. Edited by David W. Scott and selected by committee, A Bicentennial Commemorative of the Prairie State celebrates the state’s two-hundred-year history with a broad scope of voices and perspectives.
The Illinois State Historical Society has published books since its inception and its Journal continuously since 1908. In collecting previously published articles here with attention to both scholarship and readability, this book offers a varied and nuanced look at the state’s history. It brings to light many buried treasures still relevant today.
Organized chronologically, with a short summary introducing each article, this compendium of Illinois lore covers the early 1800s to the modern era. Localities covered range from Chicago to Cairo and from Quincy to Urbana. Topics range from the Underground Railroad to the Lincoln story, from the Columbian Exposition to the Women’s Suffrage amendment; and from education reformers to civil rights activists in Chicago. Also among the pages of the book are Civil War soldiers, politicians, entrepreneurs, musicians, clergymen, civic leaders, farmers, and union members. Major themes include achievements and breakthroughs, setbacks and tragedies, conflict and cooperation, and cases of the shameful and heroic.
Scott includes an overview of the Illinois State Historical Society’s contributions to preserving Illinois history through publications and other activities as well as its expansions and reorganizations over the years. To enhance its helpfulness for students, researchers, and educators, the book includes suggestions for further reading and provides the opportunity to access the articles, complete with notes, online.
In commemorating the Prairie State’s two hundred years in one volume, this collection will guide readers to explore the state’s past as they anticipate its future.


David W. Scott is chairman of the publications committee of the Board of the Illinois State Historical Society, which annually identifies the best article published in the Journal, and a past president of the organization. His work has appeared in several historical journals, including Illinois Heritage and the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.


“As Illinois celebrates its bicentennial in 2018, it is important to know our history. The Illinois State Historical Society is to be commended for putting together this selection of articles from its 110-year-old Journal to help tell the story of Illinois. This state has a great history filled with fascinating people, ideas, places, and events, and this book provides a wonderful starting point for exploring them all.”—Jesse White, Illinois secretary of state and state archivist

“For more than a century, the Illinois State Historical Society has celebrated and chronicled Illinois’s history. Perhaps in no place has this been more important than the pages of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. This selection of articles from the Journal provides a number of vignettes that give the reader a taste of Illinois’s proud and rich two-hundred-year history.”—David A. Joens, director of the Illinois State Archives
“The Illinois Bicentennial Office is pleased to endorse A Bicentennial Commemorative of the Prairie State, which contains a variety of inviting and relevant topics on Illinois history. The articles draw on 109 years of outstanding scholarship in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.”—Stuart Layne, executive director, Governor’s Office of the Illinois Bicentennial
“As Illinois celebrates its bicentennial, this toothsome smorgasbord of outstanding articles from the Journal of the Illinois Historical Society provides an informative and entertaining overview of the Prairie State from frontier days to the mid-twentieth century. Southern Illinois University Press and David W. Scott deserve the gratitude of everyone interested in the state’s evolution over the past two centuries.”—Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln, A Life