Culture in Illinois History – Writers – Arts – Illinois Education – Folklore

Cultural topics in Illinois history. Free online works on Public Schools, Higher Ed, World’s Fair of 1893, Theater, Music, Art, Writing, Folklore, Architecture, Poetry.

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.

Report of the Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board, from 1891 to 1894

Chicago: Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board 1895

Official Catalogue of the Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board

Chicago: Columbian Exposition 1893

The Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board was established by the Illinois state legislature during preparations for the Columbian Exposition, which took place in Chicago in 1893.
The Board’s objective was to display the achievements of Illinois women in a variety of fields, as explained in detail in the post-Exposition Report.

The Catalogue lists Illinois women who were identified in each field for their achievements, and contains information about the works that were highlighted. The first chapter, “Literature”, has an alphabetical list of Illinois women who had authored books, or articles in magazines and newspapers. A second list in that chapter contains the same information, arranged by subject. Other chapters in the catalogue cover works displayed in the categories of “Fine Arts”, “Decorative Art”, and “Practical Arts”.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Also see our collections of Popular Cultural History Articles: Clothes – Food – Recreation and Cultural History Articles – Literature, Music & Fine Arts

Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois

Allen, John W.
Carbondale: Southern Illinois University 1963

Chapter headings are: 1. Individuals – 2. Names – 3. Folklore – 4. Indians – 5. Early Travel – 6. Early Business Activities – 7. Farm Life – 8. Early Schools – 9. Holidays – 10. Churches – 11. Law & Order – 12. Slavery & Servitude – 13. The Military – 14. Along the Rivers – 15. Landmarks – 16. Towns – Old & Older – 17. Random Stories

Also see: History of Illinois Cities, Counties & Regions and Illinois General History

Story of Chicago in Connection with the Printing Business

Chicago: Regan Printing House 1912

“Early Music and Musicians in Illinois”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Library 1931, 60-77

Armstrong, W. D.
Springfield: Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library

A survey that covers the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth.

“The Expansion of Higher Education in Illinois”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Library 1925, 41-53

Babcock, Kendric C. PhD
Springfield: Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library

A concise account covering 1825-1865.

Find 14 more subject pages of books and articles about Illinois at the History of the Great Lakes States Directory.

“Working-Class Periodicals in Chicago”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 14, No. 1, 2007, pp 24-28

Bekken, Jon
Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

“The Development of the Free Public High School in Illinois to 1860” 1st Issue

2nd Issue

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society Volume 11 No. 3 Oct 1918 269-369; Volume 11 No. 4 Jan 1919 467-565

Belting, Paul E.
Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society

This article appears in two installments, which do not coincide with the two parts of the paper. Part and chapter headings are:

Part 1 – The Academy
– Historical Background – Early Education in Illinois – Administrative Organization and Support – Religious Influence – Some Internal Features – Manual Labor Aspect

Part 2 – The Common School
– The Apprenticeship System – The Free School Law of 1825 – The Movement of 1835 – Some Agencies that Aided in the Development and Establishment of the Common School – The Free School Law of 1855 – The Beginnings and the Characteristics of the Free Public High School by 1860 – The Establishment of the Free Public High School – A Summary of Some Earlier Influences Affecting Later Development and Practice – Summary and Conclusion

History of Music and Art in Illinois

including portraits and biographies of the cultured men and women who have been liberal patrons of the higher arts

Bennett, Frances Cheney
Philadelphia: Historical 1904

See our book collection on Education of Girls & Women in the 19th Century U.S.

“The Chicago Novel, 1890-1915”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 7, No. 2, 2000, pp 15-19

Bray, Robert
Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

The World’s Fair, Being a Pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition

A complete history of the world-renowned exposition at Chicago; captivating descriptions of the magnificent buildings and marvelous exhibits, such as works or art, textile fabrics, machinery, natural products, the latest inventions, discoveries, etc. with a description of Chicago, its wonderful buildings, parks, etc., including a chapter on the woman’s department. Embellished with hundreds of beautiful engravings

Cameron, William
Grand Rapids: Farrell 1893

The Theatre on the Frontier; the Early Years of the St. Louis Stage

Carson, William G.
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago. 1932

While this book covers St. Louis rather than Illinois, it describes cultural life and theater in the west from about 1815 to 1839, names and describes many of the popular plays at the time, and discusses the traveling companies of actors. The appendix lists the many plays performed in St. Louis during these years. Chapter headings are:

-In the nature of a prologue -Amateur nights, 1814-17 -“Pioneers! O Pioneers!” 1818-19 -The coming of Ludlow and Drake, 1820 -Feasts and famines, 1820-26 -Caldwell takes over the Salt House, 1827-28 -The stars come out, 1829-31 -The Salt House in its glory, 1832-35 -A famous partnership is formed, 1835-36 -The first real theatre, 1837 -“The Winter of our Discontent,” 1838
-A season of spectacles, 1838 -A tree, a forest, and a galaxy, 1839 -On the eve of the fabulous forties, 1839 -By way of an epilogue -Appendix -Bibliography

For more about 19th century theatre and entertainment, see:
– Cody, Mrs. Louisa (Frederici) and Cooper, C. R., Memories of Buffalo Bill in Century Past Biographies: C
– Ringling, Alfred, Life Story of the Ringling Brothers in Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History;
Kellogg, Clara, Memoirs of an American Prima Donna in Century Past Biographies: I, J, K & L;
Daly, Joseph Francis, Life of Augustin Daly in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F;
Barnum, P. T., Struggles and Triumphs: or, Forty years’ Recollections of P.T. Barnum in Century Past Biographies: A & B;
Sherman, Robert L, The Chicago Stage; its Records and Achievements in Illinois Cultural History;
Strang, Lewis C., Famous Actresses of the Day in America in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

See our collection of Etiquette Guides and Advice

Lists of Books and Periodicals

Chicago Literary Club Library

A History of the Illinois State Normal University, Normal, Illinois

Cook, John W. and McHugh, James V.
Normal, IL: 1882

“Newspapers on the Illinois Frontier”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 6, No. 1, 1999, pp 51-56

Edstrom, James A.
Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

Over 100 magazines free and online, from the early 1800s to today, at Read Old Magazines Online

Art and Handicraft in the Woman’s Building of the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Elliot, Maud Howe, ed.
Chicago: Rand, McNally 1894

Heavily illustrated

Magazines of a Market-Metropolis

Being a History of the Literary Periodicals and Literary Interests of Chicago. A Dissertation

Fleming, Herbert E.
Chicago: University of Chicago 1906

A Reprint of Papers Entitled “The Literary Interests of Chicago,” from The American Journal of Sociology, Vols. XI and XII, Chicago, 1906. [The volume numbers and page numbers used in the journal were also used in this reprint, and are shown below in the Table of Contents.]

Table of Contents:
I. The Pioneer Periodicals of Prairie Days, 1845-1862 XI, 377
II. Periodical Literature Following the War 1865-1871 XI, 396
III. Literary Periodicals Following the Chicago Fire, 1871-1880 XI, 499
IV. Journals for Letters in the Market-Metropolis, 1880-90 XI, 512
V. Esthetic Periodicals of the World’s Fair City, 1890-1900 XI, 784
VI. The Commercialized Magazines of a Cosmopolitan Center, 1900 to Date XII, 68
VII. Summary of General Conclusions, Including Statistics of the Periodicals XII, 112

“Carl Sandburg, Poet with Attitude”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 13, No. 1, 2006, pp 27-30

Guillory, Dan
Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

Illinois Authors and A Literary Map of Illinois

Hook, J. N.; Burkhart, Ellen and Lane, Louise
Urbana, IL: Illinois Association of Teachers of English 1952

A Bibliography of Newspapers Published in Illinois Prior to 1860

James, Edmund J., compiler
Springfield: Philips. 1899

For online historic Illinois newspapers, see: Illinois History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers
For online collections of historical newspapers from throughout the U.S., see: Section 071.1 United States in Newspapers: Free Online Collections

“Literature and Literary People of Early Illinois”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1908 No. 13, pp123-139

Jamison, Isabel
Springfield: Illinois State Journal 1909

The article is a concise history of publishing in the west through the 1830s and especially Illinois, naming numerous early writers and their books and adding biographical background for many. Some of the more significant works of the 1840s and early 1850s are also here.

“The Subscription School and the Seminary in Pioneer Days”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society 1925, pp 54-59

Johnson, Charles B.
Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society

A personal account of educational experience before the advent of tax-supported schools.

Some mid-19th Century school textbooks are at: Great Lakes Region Cultural History: Education, the Arts

Historical Sketches of the Public School System of the City of Chicago to the Close of the School Year 1878-79

Johnston, Shepherd
Chicago: Clark & Edwards 1880

This short history of 80 pages begins with some descriptions of the earliest schools in the mid-1830s. Much of the book is concerned with implementation of state and local education legislation, and school system administration issues from the 1840s onward. There are also brief profiles of Chicago high schools in the 1870s and lists of the graduates.

Page Directory of 90+ subject pages at History of the Great Lakes States

Chicago Historical Society Library, 1856-1906: A Handbook

McIlvaine, Caroline Margaret
Chicago: Chicago Historical Society 1906

A Guide to 150 Years of Chicago Architecture

Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago Review 1985       

This book “was commissioned by the Museum of Science and Industry to accompany its expanded presentation of the travelling exhibition, “150 Years of Chicago Architecture”. -Introduction

Contents: Introduction – Panorama: 1830-1869 – 1870-1879 – 1880-1889 – 1890-1899 – 1900-1909 – 1910-1919 – 1920-1929 – 1930-1939 – 1940-1949 – 1950-1959 – 1960-1969 – 1970-1979 – 1980-1985 – Masters: Bertrand Goldberg – Walter Netsch – Harry Weese – In exile at home – Current architects – A guide to the exhibition

“An Outline of the History of Architecture in Illinois”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Library 1931 124-143

O’Donnell, Thomas Edward
Springfield: Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library

Also see:
– Baas, Christopher, “Concrete in the Steel City: Constructing Thomas Edison’s House for the Working Man” in Indiana Cultural History
Cameron, William, The World’s Fair, Being a Pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition in Illinois Cultural History;
Varney, Almon C., Our Homes and their Adornments, or, How to Build, Finish, Furnish, and Adorn a Home in Michigan Cultural History
Guth, Alexander Carl, “Early Day Architects in Milwaukee” in Wisconsin Cultural History

Collected works of Fiction set in the historic Great Lakes region

“Recording the Early Architecture of Illinois in the Historic American Buildings Survey”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1934 pp. 185-213

O’Donnell, Thomas E.
Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library

This article from the 1930s describes the Historic Buildings Survey that was then being carried out in Illinois, discusses in very general terms the early architectural styles found in Illinois, then goes on to name many of the significant buildings that had recently been identified in the Historic Building Survey for preservation. The author briefly describes them and explains why they were selected. There are 18 photos included.

“School Segregation in Southern Illinois: The Alton School Case, 1897-1908”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 12, No. 1, 2005, pp 23-26

Portwood, Shirley J.
Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

The Movement for Industrial Education and the Establishment of the University 1840-1870

Powell, Burt E., PhD
Urbana: University of Illinois 1918

This is a history of the University of Illinois as well as a history of the industrial education movement that resulted in the establishment of a whole system of industrial universities throughout the nation. Chapter headings are:

– The Beginning of the Struggle – The Illinois Plan for a System of Land Grant Colleges – The Activity of the Industrial League – Illinois Plan before Congress – Final Period of the Land Grant Proposition – The Men who Led – Seminary and College Funds and the Various Attempts to Establish an Agricultural College or State University – Illinois Accepts the Donation of Congress and Considers its Disposition, 1862- 1865 – Preparation for the Final Struggle for the Location of the Industrial University – Contest in Legislature of 1867: University Located – The Illinois Industrial University Organizes for Work – The First Two Years of University Work – First Board of Trustees and the First Faculty – Appendix (contains 28 significant documents and two tables)

Books and articles on Religion in the early history of the Great Lakes region

Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois 1814-1879

Scott, Franklin W.
Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library 1910

This is a 600 page guide, arranged by towns. Indexes at the back are organized by chronology (begins 1814, on page 415), newspaper names, persons names, and counties.

“A very valuable part of this record is the ably written introduction (of 104 pages), in which Professor Scott traces the social and economic conditions of Illinois Territory—its population, means of transportation, education, politics, etc.—when its first newspaper was established, at Kaskaskia, in 1814, and on to a recent period. His review of the history and progress of journalism in the State is divided into five stages; the first including the decade from 1814 to the election of 1824, resulting in the defeat of the pro-slavery convention question; the second, from 1824 to the “coonskin and hard cider” campaign of 1840; the third, from 1841 to 1860; the fourth, comprising the following decade to 1870; and the fifth, to 1879. In each stage were new elements of popular opinion, new political issues, and, latterly, many new mechanical aids to the printing art, improved transportation of mails, and telegraphic facilities of inter-communication, that greatly influenced the newspaper industry.”
– Review in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society Vol 4 1911-12, pp 110-111.

For online historic Illinois newspapers, see: Illinois History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers

Please visit our Century Past Free Online Library, with thousands of books to read online or download

Chicago Stage, its Records and Achievements, Volume 1

Sherman, Robert L.
Chicago: Sherman. 1947

On the cover of this self-published 800-page book is this description of the contents: “Gives a complete record of all entertainment and, substantially, the cast over every play presented in Chicago, on its first production in the city, from the beginning of theatricals in 1834 down to the last before the fire of 1871.” This description of the author is also on the cover: “Fifty years in theatricals as actor, author, manager and producer. Operator of touring attractions from coast to coast and many resident stock companies. Author of Drama Cyclopedia.”

The author states in the Preface that the records here include not just, “…theatres proper, but halls where any form of entertainment was given and tents, where circus performances took place.” He says that early amusements usually originated in hotel dining rooms and graduated to halls.

Catalogue: Evanston Authors and Composers

Simpson, Frances, comp.
Evanston: Young Women’s Missionary Society 1900

“Misconceptions Concerning the Early History of the University of Illinois”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Library 1932, 63-90

Turner, Fred H.
Springfield: Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library

A comprehensive account of the founding and early years of the state university.

Books and articles about everyday life, women, ethnic groups, social issues etc. at Topics in the social history of Illinois

Alphabetic Catalog of the Books, Manuscripts, Maps, Pictures and Curios of the Illinois State Historical Library

Weber, Jessie Palmer, comp.
Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library 1900

Partial Bibliography of Illinois Authors

Woodmansee, Ralph Cullom
University of Illinois 1903

Bachelor’s thesis. Authors who resided in Illinois for at least a year and published something prior to 1850.

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Cultural History’ pages.

Great Lakes Cultural History

Indiana Cultural History

Michigan Cultural History

Ohio Cultural History

Wisconsin Cultural History

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