#SmallTownSaturday – Introduction

1864 Johnson and Ward’s Map of Illinois

*Originally posted on June 28, 2017*

This Saturday, we are beginning our #SmallTownSaturday series!

When we think of Illinois history, we most commonly think of the Prairie State’s big cities, rife with big events: Chicago’s riots, rallies, fires, and fairs; Springfield’s Lincoln landmarks; Champaign-Urbana’s University scene. Often, we tend to overlook the equally significant cultural heritage, historical events, and notable figures of the small towns in Illinois.

Through our Small Town Saturday series, we hope to introduce you to some of the lesser known yet noteworthy stories from our state’s past while celebrating the small towns where they unfolded.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Rantoul, IL

Aerial photograph of Chanute Air Force base in the 1920s with the village of Rantoul in the background.

This week we’re landing in Rantoul, IL (pop. 12,815) for our #SmallTownSaturday!

Few settlers inhabited the wooded area north of Urbana until the Illinois Central Railroad arrived in the early 1850s. Robert Rantoul Jr., a U.S. representative from Massachusetts and a director of the Illinois Central Railroad, drafted a charter for a railroad that included tracks running from Urbana to Chicago. The project was completed in 1854 and Rantoul Station was built, named after Robert Rantoul Jr. A town began to form near the station as settlers built homes and set up small businesses. By the time Rantoul received an official charter in 1869, it had 1,634 residents.… Read More


Picture of an open archival folder containing a Civil War letter and envelope as well as a photograph of a Civil War soldier. Image also includes an open diary on book supports and an archival box. All items are found in the Stephen A. Forbes Collection at the IHLC.

Welcome to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections blog! This blog will highlight different topics in Illinois history, as well as the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Read below to learn more about the upcoming blog series we have planned.

  • If you follow our Facebook account, you may be familiar with our ongoing #SmallTownSaturday series. We will now post new #SmallTownSaturday features here on the blog every other Saturday. We will post previous features on the blog as well. If you would like to learn more about a particular small town in Illinois, please let us know!
  • We will also feature #OnThisDay posts for select dates in Illinois history.
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