A Guide to the History of Illinois

By John Hoffmann | Go to book overview
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ILLINOIS STATE HISTORICAL LIBRARY

LAUREL G. BOWEN

Old State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62701
(217) 782-4836

THE ILLINOIS STATE Historical Library, established by the General Assembly in 1889, is the preeminent repository for research materials that document the history of the entire state. Located since 1970 beneath the restored Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield, the library became a division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in 1985. One of the library's early and continuing strengths is its Abraham Lincoln collection, including a wealth of printed Lincolniana, a copy of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's hand, and the largest cache of Lincoln manuscripts predating his presidency. In the late 1950s, the library began a program to microfilm Illinois newspapers, resulting in a collection that now numbers nearly sixty-five thousand reels. More generally, the library has acquired in its first century some 165,000 volumes relating to every aspect of the state's history.

In developing the manuscripts collection, the staff of the library traditionally emphasized political and military affairs during the Civil War and earlier periods of Illinois history, but around 1960 it began to give increased attention to the more recent past and to materials relating to social and economic history. Total

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