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Kids today

Here will be found articles about child welfare, parenting, state  programs for dependent children, and other non-school-related issues involving children that appeared mainly in Illinois Times and Illinois Issues.

In the 1960s I was for a while an official Disaffected Youth, having been  such was made a member of state and local committees of 1970 White House Conference on Youth, the Urban Needs Committee of Springfield's United Way, an Illinois Department of Public Health's drug abuse program planning group, the Committee on School Organization of the Governor's Commission on Schools, and similar groups.


In the 1970s (still a youth myself) I was hired to write state agency publications that pertained to kids and drug abuse. The most significant of these (at least to me) was Getting It Together: Community Action Against Drug Abuse (Illinois Dept. of Public Health, State of Illinois, Springfield, 1971). Very much a how-to and very much of its time, it deserves the oblivion into which such publications fall.  It was however the occasion of my meeting the excellent Lynford Keyes, one of those able and dedicated career public servants who then roamed in herds through Springfield streets but today seem on the verge of extinction. 


An altogether more serious project came my way twenty years later. Jim Nowlan, then Director of Research for the Illinois Tax Foundation, invited me to make a report on the State of Illinois's programs for children. (See "Afterword" below.)

After 40 years I cannot say that Illinois children are better off than they were when I started except in gross material terms. My work had nothing to do with that decline, but it saddens me to say that it didn't do anything to slow it either. 

Note: Pieces about public education, from pedagogy and politics to school buildings and higher education, appear under the topic "Common schools." 

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Rating Game

Illinois tries again to protect its young

Illinois Issues  February 2006


Fixing Kids: Illinois' Programs for Children

Illinois Tax Foundation, 1993

What To Do with Troubled Kids

Illinois as custodian of its dependent children

Illinois Issues  March 1995

Body Counts

Why the State of Illinois is a lousy surrogate parent

"Prejudices" Illinois Times  January 9, 1981

Nurture and Support

Devising a decent family policy for Illinois

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  March 10, 1994

Decent People

Is Illinois’s child welfare system an accessory to murder?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  November 9, 1993

More Harm Than Good

Illinois tries to make itself safe from kids and vice versa

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  Undated

 Shotgun Weddings

The state can’t be both pro-family and anti-father

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 7, 1993

Relative Chaos

Illinois wonders, “Who gets the kids?”

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  May 20, 1993


Springfield's youths cruise for a bruisin'

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 4, 1979

Why Did the Children Not Cross the Road?
Kids no longer enjoy the freedom of their city
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  December. 30, 2009

Having Fun Saving the World

Springfield’s Kidzeum promotes “health and wellness”

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  November 7, 2013


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John Hallwas

Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Lee Sandlin Author

One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.

Chicago Architecture Center

See Home Page/Learn/

Resources for a marvelous building database, architecture dictionary, even a city planning graphic novel. Handsome, useful—every Illinois culture website should be so good.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago


The online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Crammed with thousands of topic entries, biographical sketches, maps and images, it is a reference work unmatched in Illinois.

Illinois Great Places

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2018 selected 200 Great Places in Illinois that illustrate our  shared architectural culture across the entire period of human settlement in Illinois.

McLean County Museum

of History

A nationally accredited, award-winning project of the McLean County Historical Society whose holdings include more than 20,000 objects, more than 15,000 books on local history and genealogy, and boxes and boxes of historical papers and images.

Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois


Every Illinois town ought to have a chronicler like D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Not only Lincoln and the Mother road—the author’s curiosity ranges from cattle baron John Dean Gillett to novelist William Maxwell. An Illinois State Historical Society "Best Web Site of the Year."

Illinois Digital Archives


Created in 2000, the IDA is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library and other Illinois libraries and cultural institutions. The holdings include photographs, slides, and glass negatives, oral histories, newspapers, maps, and documents from manuscripts and letters to postcards,  posters, and videos.

The Illinois State Museum


The people's museum is a treasure house of science and the arts. A research institution of national reputation, the museum maintains four facilities across the state. Their collections in anthropology, fine and decorative arts, botany, zoology, geology, and  history are described here. A few museum publications can be obtained here.

Chronicling Illinois

“Chronicling Illinois” showcases some of the collections—mostly some 6,000 photographs—from the Illinois history holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.


I will leave it to the authors of this interesting site to describe it. "Chicagology is a study of Chicago history with a focus on the period prior to the Second World War. The purpose of the site is to document common and not so common stories about the City of Chicago as they are discovered." 

Illinois Labor History Society

The Illinois Labor History Society seeks to encourage the preservation and study of labor history materials of the Illinois region, and to arouse public interest in the profound significance of the past to the present. Offers books reviews, podcasts, research guides, and the like. 

Illinois Migration History 1850-2017

The University of Washington’s America’s Great Migrations Project has compiled migration histories  (mostly from the published and unpublished work by UW Professor of History James Gregory) for several states, including Illinois. The site also includes maps and charts and essays about the Great Migration of African Americans to the north, in which Illinois figured importantly. 

History on the Fox

An interesting resource about the history of one of Illinois’s more interesting places, the Fox Valley of Kendall County. History on the Fox is the work of Roger Matile, an amateur historian of the best sort. Matile’s site is a couple of cuts above the typical buff’s blog. (An entry on the French attempt to cash in on the trade in bison pelts runs more than

2,000 words.)




Southern Illinois University Press 2017

A work of solid history, entertainingly told.

Michael Burlingame,

author of Abraham 

Lincoln: A Life 

One of the ten best books on Illinois history I have read in a decade.

Superior Achievement Award citation, ISHS Awards, 2018

A lively and engaging study . . .  an enthralling narrative.

James Edstrom

The Annals of Iowa

A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians

as well as local historians generally.

John Hoffman

Journal of Illinois HIstory

A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.

Harold Henderson 

Midwestern Microhistory

A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.

Greg Hall

Journal of the Illinois

State Historical Society

Click  here 

to read about

the book 

Click  here 

to buy the book 


Southern Illinois University Press

SIU Press is one of the four major university publishing houses in Illinois. Its catalog offers much of local interest, including biographies of Illinois political figures, the history (human and natural) and folklore of southern Illinois, the Civil War and Lincoln, and quality reprints in the Shawnee Classics series.

University of

Illinois Press

The U of I Press was founded in 1918. A search of the online catalog  (Books/Browse by subject/Illinois) will reveal more than 150 Illinois titles, books on history mostly but also butteflies, nature , painting, poetry and fiction, and more.  Of particular note are its Prairie State Books,  quality new paperback editions of worthy titles about all parts of Illinois, augmented with scholarly introductions.

University of

Chicago Press

The U of C publishing operation is the oldest (1891) and largest university press in Illinois. Its reach is international, but it has not neglected its own neighborhood. Any good Illinois library will include dozens of titles about Chicago and Illinois from Fort Dearborn to

Vivian Maier.

Northern Illinois University Press

The newest (1965) and the smallest of the university presses with an interest in Illinois, Northern Illinois University Press gave us important titles such as the standard one-volume history of the state (Biles' Illinois:
A History of the Land and Its People) and contributions to the history of Chicago, Illinois transportation, and the Civil War. Now an imprint of Cornell University Press.


Reviews and significant mentions by James Krohe Jr. of more than 50 Illinois books, arranged in alphabetical order

by book title. 


Illinois Center for the Book

Run by the Illinois State Library, The Center promotes reading, writing and author programs meant to honor the state's rich literary heritage. An affiliate of the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book, the site offers award competitions, a directory of Illinois authors, literary landmarks, and reading programs.

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