#SmallTownSaturday – Centralia, IL

A share certificate for the Illinois Central Railroad, dated 1899

*Originally posted on November 4, 2017*

This week for #SmallTownSaturday, we’re visiting Centralia, IL (pop. 13,000)!

With an abundance of deer, bears, and elk, the region is thought to have been the hunting territory of the indigenous Tamaroa people prior to white settlement. It wasn’t until 1816 that settlers began to make their homes in the area.

Centralians were focused on agriculture in the early 19th century. Farmers suffered from a persistent problem: a lack of transportation of goods to market that petrified the Central Illinois economy. Advocating the construction of a new railway, Stephen Douglas secured a grant of 2.5 million acres of Federal land from Congress and Pres.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Riverside, IL

Avery Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois

*Originally posted on October 21, 2017*

Today we’ll visit Riverside, IL (pop. 8,875) for #SmallTownSaturday!

Portages, streams, free-flowing springs, wooded river banks, and vast prairie provided a few types of game to several Native American tribes in Riverside until their forced removal. The Potawatomi were the principal residents, but the Ottawa and Chippewas also lived in the region. Located just west of Chicago’s Ft. Dearborn though, white settlers began to lay their claim to the land as early as 1836.

Riverside was largely undeveloped in the early to mid-19th century. Farms belonging to the Forbes, Egan, and Gage families existed, but little else.

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Myra Bradwell: First Woman Admitted to Illinois Bar

Photograph of Myra Bradwell, dated 1870

March is Women’s History Month! We will be celebrating all month long by highlighting some of our favorite inspiring women in Illinois history.

Throughout her life Myra Colby Bradwell was a progressive and tireless advocate for women’s rights. She was born in Manchester, Vermont on February 12, 1831 to parents who were active abolitionists. She grew up in Vermont and New York, and at the age of 12 she and her family moved to Schaumburg Township, Illinois. Myra attended a finishing school in Kenosha, Wisconsin and then a ladies’ seminary in Elgin, Illinois. In 1851, she began a career as a school teacher.… Read More

Labor Activism in Chicago: Elizabeth Chambers Morgan

Photograph of Elizabeth C. Morgan in an 1895 newspaper

March is Women’s History Month! We will be celebrating all month long by highlighting some of our favorite inspiring women in Illinois history.

Abolish the sweat-shops; Arise in your might. We women demand it! By all that is right, By all that is sacred, By all that is just, We urge you go forward; In you is our trust.

The Sweater’s Lament, by Elizabeth Chambers Morgan

Elizabeth Chambers Morgan is one of the inspiring women in Illinois you can learn about here at the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections. She was one of the leading activists and social reformers in the Chicago labor movement during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.… Read More