A Guide to the History of Illinois

By John Hoffmann | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

IN THE LITERATURE of American Local History: A Bibliographical Essay ( New York, 1846), Hermann E. Ludewig took only three pages to list the sources for Illinois. The Antiquarian and Historical Society of Illinois had foundered soon after its formation in 1827, and the first book-length history of the state had appeared only in 1844. Illinoisans, unlike New Englanders, were not a "documentary people."

During the second half of the nineteenth century, however, old settlers' associations, war veteran groups, and county historical societies proliferated, while county histories and atlases came into vogue. In 1889, the Illinois State Historical Library was established as a state-funded agency, independent from the state museum, and a decade later the Illinois State Historical Society was formed, becoming a department of the Historical Library in 1903. By 1905, the collection of Illinois materials in the library's rooms at the state capitol in Springfield was sufficient to support an eighty-page list of references, published in Jessie Palmer Weber , An Outline for the Study of Illinois State History. Although the early writings on Illinois history are yet to be assessed in a general account of the development of the field, the record of organizational activity is ably discussed in Robert W. Johannsen, "History on the Illinois Frontier: Early Efforts to Preserve the State's Past," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 68 ( Apr. 1975), and Roger D. Bridges, "The Origins and Early Years of the Illinois State Historical Society," ibid.

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