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Conference on Illinois History

Twenty-Second Annual
Conference on Illinois History
October 5-9, 2020

Click here to download this year's conference program.

Plenary Speakers

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko
"Reimagining the Illinois State Museum"

Dr. Kristin Hoganson
"Local History for Our Times"

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Jacob Friefeld at or (217)558-0128.

How it Works

  1. Register for every session you’d like to attend. (It's Free!)
  2. Once you have registered, you will receive an email with a link to join the session.
    (For every session you are registered, you will receive a unique link).
  3. When it’s time for the session to begin, click the link and follow the instructions to join.

Register now to reserve your spot!

Please help support Research Division programs like the Conference on Illinois History by making a tax-deductible donation to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (suggested donation $25).

Donate Now

Daily Schedule & Registration


Welcome, 8:30-8:45 (All Times in Central Time) (Registration)
Jacob K. Friefeld, Illinois and Midwest Studies Historian, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Concurrent Sessions, 9:00-10:30

Session 1: Culture and Legacy of Native Americans in Illinois (Registration)
“ La Salle and the Miami-Illinois Language,” Mark Walczynski, Starved Rock Educational and Historical Foundation
“ Uncovering Cahokia: 1960s Salvage Archaeology amid Ancient Mounds and Organized Crime,” Mark Flotow, Independent Scholar
“ The Life and Times of Shaubonay,” Michael Bodenhagen, Will County Historical Society

Session 2: The Civil War and Remembrance in Illinois (Registration)
“ Remembering the Fallen: The Creation of Civil War Monuments in Illinois, 1865-1929,” Jeremy Knoll, Northern Illinois University
“ The Illinois Monument at Vicksburg: The Battle, Commemoration, and Architecture,” Mark Pohlad, DePaul University; Bill Shepherd, Independent Scholar

Concurrent Sessions, 10:45-12:15

Session 3: The Politics of Art and Performance in Illinois History (Registration)
“Peace and Goodwill in The Trojan Women,” Janette Clay, Loyola University Chicago
“ A La Esperanza: Uncovering 1970s Women’s Art and Activism in Mexican Chicago,” Hinda Seif and Sarah Harris, University of Illinois Springfield
“ The Power of Performance: The Federal Music Project in Illinois,” Renée Gaarder, Purdue University

Session 4: Politics in Illinois (Registration)
“Illinois Congressional Dynasties,” Philip Grant, Pace University
“The Illinois Income Tax: A Political History,” Adam S. Myers, Providence College
“ Mr. Railsback, Aye: Congressman Thomas F. Railsback’s Career and Legacy in Government,” Jeffrey Hancks, Western Illinois University

Concurrent Sessions, 12:45-2:15

Session 5: ERA’s Crucial Battleground: The ERA Fight in Illinois (Registration)
“ ERA Fight in Illinois: The Early Years,” Mark DePue, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
“ ERA Fight in Illinois: 1982’s Bitter End,” Jan Droegkamp, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
“Writing the Book on Illinois’s ERA Fight,” Kaytlin Jacoby, University of Illinois Springfield

Session 6: Reformers and Radicals in Illinois (Registration)
“ The Lasting Impacts of Educational Reformer Jonathan Baldwin Turner,” Margaret Houts, Olivet Nazarene University
“ N.O. Nelson: Factory Owner, Philanthropist, and Founder of a Capitalist Utopia,” Cara Lane, Edwardsville High School
“ Dream and Struggles of Japanese Socialists in Chicago in the early 20th century Racist America,” Takako Day, Independent Scholar

Teacher Workshop 1, 3:30-5:00 (Registration)
“ Bringing History to Life: Engaging Students with Living History,” Abigail Cline, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Teach students to utilize primary and secondary sources and step into character via Living History. Benefits include stronger research and public speaking skills and a deeper understanding of the past.

Teacher Workshop 2, 5:15-6:45 (Registration)
“ We Didn’t Start the Fire: Using Pop Music to Teach Contemporary History,” Corinne Claycomb, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  A staggering playlist of pop music can be used to enhance lessons about pivotal contemporary historical moments by merging the past with the present through infectious hooks and clever lyrics.


Concurrent Sessions, 9:00-10:30 AM

Session 7: Journalism and Illinois at the Northwestern University Archives (Registration)

“ The Robert R. McCormick Papers, a Key Archival Source for Historians of Illinois,” Benn Joseph, McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives Northwestern University Library

“ Collections Relating to Illinois Journalism,” Kevin Leonard, McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives Northwestern University Library

Session 8: Antebellum Illinois (Registration)

"Lincoln's Chicken Bone Case and the State of Medicine in Antebellum Illinois" Roger Billings, Northern Kentucky University

“ Assessing the Squatter Population in Antebellum Northern Illinois” Wayne Duerkes, Independent Scholar

“ Abraham Lincoln and the 1850 U.S. Census,” George Provenzano, Lewis and Clark Community College

Concurrent Sessions, 10:45-12:15

Session 9: Round Table, African Americans in Law Enforcement (Registration)

Moderator, Robert Moore, United States Marshal

LaDon A. Reynolds, Chief of Police Oak Park, Illinois

Valdimir Talley Jr., Chief of Police Maywood, Illinois

Mitchell R. Davis, Chief of Police Hazel Crest, Illinois

Anthony Cobb, Chief of Police, Champaign, Illinois

Brendan O. Heffner, United States Marshal

Session 10: The Built Environment and Memory in the Midwest (Registration)

“ The Reflexive Relationships Negotiated between the Living and the Dead at Two Midwest Cemeteries,” Madeline Ouimet, University of Chicago

“ The Land of Saints: The Memory of Illinois’s Catholic Saints,” Emily Davis, Loyola University Chicago

“ It’s Never Too Late to Mend: Behind the Walls of the Old Joliet Prison,” Brian Conroy, Joliet Junior College and Joliet Area Historical Museum

Concurrent Sessions, 12:45-2:15 PM

Session 11: Women, Gender, and Identity in Illinois History (Registration)

“ The Many Motherhoods of Mary Bickerdyke: Civil War Era Identity Formation and Historical Memory,” Megan VanGorder, Northern Illinois University

“ Women’s Opportunities: Turn of the Century Higher Education and Workplace Advancement at Rockford University,” Joanna Mladic, Rockford University

“ The Women’s Committee and Illinois’ State Council of Defense during World War One: Performance Patriotism and the Gendering of War,” Josh Fulton, Northern

Illinois University

Session 12: Slavery and Freedom in Illinois (Registration)

“ Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium,” Bryan Jack, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

“ Agents of the American Anti-Slavery Society,” Owen Muelder, Underground Railroad Freedom Station at Knox College

“ Elite Lawyers, Country Lawyers, and Localism: Legal Culture and Slavery in Illinois at Early Statehood,” Valerie Deisinger, Stanford University

Teacher Workshop 3, 3:30-5:00 (Registration)

“ Black Lives Matter in Early Illinois: Learning for Our Time,” Caroline Kisiel, DePaul University

Themes of slavery and abolition in Illinois history present an opportunity to support student learning through teaching strategies connecting the past to the present, fostering critical thinking, and engaged citizenship.

Teacher Workshop 4, 5:15-6:45 (Registration)

“Visual Literacy: Learning How to Look,” Angela Esposito, Chicago Architecture Center

Visual literacy and ‘learning to look’ helps children understand the built environment, their neighborhoods, and themselves. Through inquiry-based questioning, children see and appreciate their surroundings in a more meaningful way.


Concurrent Sessions, 9:00-10:30 AM

Session 13: The Mythic Mississippi Project: Deploying Illinois’s Cultural Heritage Resources for Economic and Social Development through Themed Tourism (Registration)

Helaine Silverman, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Sarah McGibany, Alton Mainstreet
Hannah Kline, Illinois History Collaborative
Lacy McDonald, Hayner Library (Alton, Illinois)
Justin Smock, University of Illinois Springfield
Stephanie Young, All Town USA

Session 14: The Politics of Race and Civil Rights in Illinois (Registration)

“ Activists in Training: Saul Alinsky, the Industrial Areas Foundation, and the Pursuit for Civil Rights,” Emiliano Aguilar Jr., Northwestern University

“ The Mayor vs. The Klan: East St. Louis, 1924,” Will Shannon, St. Clair County Historical Society

Concurrent Sessions, 10:45-12:15

Session 15: Ethnicity and Immigration in Illinois (Registration)

“ Swedes in Roger Williams’ Garden: Acculturation in Immigrant Churches, 1848-1860,” Peter Ellertsen, Independent Scholar

“ Illinois Jews’ Experiences Serving in the Military During World War II,” Adam Taylor, Purdue University

“ From South Bohemia to the Capitol: The Life of Czech-American Congressman Adolph J. Sabath,” Martin Nekola, The Czechoslovak Talks

Session 16: Baseball in Illinois (Registration)

“‘ All nationalities, both white and black, meet on an equality of the grounds’: Race and Gender in early Illinois Baseball, 1865-1870,” Robert D. Sampson, Millikin University

“A Short History of Baseball at MacMurray College,” Eric Berg, MacMurray College

Plenary Session: 12:45-2:15

Practicing Public History in Illinois (Registration)

“The Sangamon Experience,” Anne Moseley, University of Illinois Springfield

“ The Commemoration of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908,” Devin Hunter, University of Illinois Springfield

“The Chicago 1919 Project,” Elizabeth Cummings, Newberry Library

Teacher Workshop 5, 3:30-5:00 (Registration)

“ Regulating Hate Speech: Joseph Beauharnais & the White Circle League,” Tiffany Middleton, American Bar Association

Explore the 1952 U.S. Supreme Court case involving white separatist Joseph Beauharnais and efforts by Illinois to control hate speech in the state. Primary source materials provided for classroom use.

Teacher Workshop 6, 5:15-6:45 (Registration)

“ Forgotten Chicago History: The 1919 Race Riots,” Kristen Kaczmarek, Hillcrest High School, District 228

Learn engaging techniques to incorporate the 1919 Race Riots into your classroom instruction. Analyze photos, data, and newspaper articles to draw conclusions about this important event in Chicago’s history.


Concurrent Sessions, 9:00-10:30

Session 17: Round Table, Civil War Soldier Culture (Registration)

Chair, Stephen E. Towne, IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Megan Bever, Missouri Southern State University

Megan Boccardi, Quincy University

Christian McWhirter, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Lauren Thompson, McKendree University

Session 18: From Prairie to Progress: Women, the Land and Community in Edwards County, Illinois – Past and Present (Registration)

“ Grace, Grit and Growth: Frontier Albion’s English Gentlewomen,” Caroline Kisiel,

DePaul University

“ Women and Farming in Edwards County Today,” Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer magazine and Farm Progress

“ Pioneers on the Prairie: Albion’s Groundbreaking Women, Past and Present,” Jessica Gwaltney, Albion Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Albion Chowder

Plenary Speaker, 10:45-12:00 (Registration)
Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko“Reimagining the Illinois State Museum”

Working in museums for more than twenty years, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko believes they have the power to change lives, inspire movements, and challenge authority. A museum director since 2001, Cinnamon is a frequent presenter at national museum meetings and is often asked to comment on national museum issues. As the President/CEO of the Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor) from 2009 to 2019, she was the motivational leader behind the museum’s decolonization initiative, working with the Native communities in Maine to develop policies and protocols to ensure collaboration and cooperation with Wabanaki people. In 2019, Cinnamon became the new director of the Illinois State Museum.

In 2016 Cinnamon gave her first TEDx talk, We Must Decolonize Our Museums and she’s been featured on the Museopunks podcast series. She’s the author of Museum Administration 2.0 (2016), The Art of Healing: The Wishard Art Collection (2004), and co-editor of the Small Museum Toolkit (2012).

Teacher Workshop 7, 3:30-5:00 (Registration)

“ A Caricature with Many Faces: Using Political Cartoons to Understand Contemporary Reactions to Lincoln’s Presidency,” Heather Nice, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

In this session, we explore strategies to teach students how to analyze political cartoons to gain a deeper understanding of historical events; highlights original records from the ALPLM’s Whispering Gallery.


Concurrent Sessions, 9:00-10:30 AM

Session 19: Corruption and Reform in Illinois (Registration)

“Radium Girls,” Heinz Suppan, Marquette Academy

“Kefauver Stirs an Illinois Gangland Brew,” Robert Hartley, Independent Scholar

“ A ‘Network of Sinister Influences’: Machine Politics, Fraud, and Reform in the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in Chicago, 1933-1939,” Matthew Amyx, Loyola University Chicago

Session 20: Civil War Era Illinois (Registration)

“ Surviving Northern Prisoner of War Camps with the Aid of Confederate Sympathizers and Selling Prison-made Handicrafts,” Beth Kruse, University of Mississippi

“ Interpreting the Life of Richard Yates, Civil War Governor of Illinois,” James Fuller, University of Indianapolis

Plenary Speaker, 10:45-12:00 (Registration)

Dr. Kristin Hoganson

“Local History for Our Times”

Kristin Hoganson is the Stanley S. Stroup Professor of United States History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her publications include Fighting for American Manhood (Yale, 1998), Consumers’ Imperium (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), American Empire at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Bedford Press, 2016), and The Heartland: An American History (Penguin Press, 2019). She is currently serving as her department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and as President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Teacher Workshop 8, 3:30-5:00 (Registration)

“ How to Make No Small Plans: A Civic Action Graphic Novel,” Rebecca Boland, Chicago Architecture Center

The graphic novel No Small Plans follows the adventures of Chicago teens as they design the city they want, need, and deserve. Explore urban planning, civic engagement, and classroom use.

CPDU Credit

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Education Department is providing 1.5 Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for each concurrent or plenary session and teacher workshop; 1.25 CPDUs will be offered for each plenary speaker during the Conference on Illinois History. An educator who attends all conference events will receive 31 CPDUs.

To receive CPDU credit, educators must complete a time-sensitive “sign in” process when they enter a session and submit an evaluation for each session attended. One certificate will be issued at the end of the conference for each participating educator. The certificate will include total hours awarded and a record of sessions attended.
If you have any questions, please contact the Education Department at

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 2020 Conference on Illinois History.  Check back often as more details will be added soon.  

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