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Society, etc.

Here you will find articles about marriage and sex, religion and family life, race in all its manifestations, immigration, the economy, criminal justice, poverty, and war—all as seen from an Illinois perspective. Most were published in Illinois Times and Illinois Issues.


The opinion columnist is expected to expostulate on the social issues of the moment. That this obligation encourages blow-hardism and cant doesn’t need to be underlined, and I suppose I was as guilty of both as any. The range of passing controversies over the past forty years would have baffled any one person’s attempts to master them, but my publications had gaping holes I was expected to fill, and I did my best. 

Interested readers also should know that I devoted three chapters in my history of mid-Illinois—"“Well known repugnances," “Making the world a little more Christian,” and "Realizing the ideal"—to social discord, religion, and social reform efforts respectively as they affected that part of the state; see Corn Kings & One-Horse Thieves. See also "Kids today" and "Common schools" for pieces on related topics.

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Immigrants and immigration

In a dim lightand we Illinoisans these days seem to see everything in a dim lightit is hard to tell a bigot from a patriot. Illinois is a state of immigrants (to borrow a phrase). It is impossible to understand the state's past without reference to newcomers' contributions, and they remain crucial to its future; indeed, it is not clear that Illinois has a future without immigrants. Yet they are feared and resented as a threat to our prosperity rather than its source. 

Making Room for the Huangs

Immigration policy and the skilled international

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  May 6, 2010

The Melting Pot Boils Again

Illinois’ difficult history with the Other

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times November 25, 2015

With 772 You Get Eggroll

The immigration issue in 1980s Springfield

Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times January 28, 2016​

Three Strikes and You're In

Immigrants as the solution, not the problem

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times November 10, 2011

Get Right or Get Out

Fearful Illinoisans confront the Other

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times August 18, 2016

Trumped-up Charges
The fear of immigration in Illinois belies the facts
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  September 24, 2015

Mid-America’s Port of Entry

Chicago as immigrant haven

See Illinois  (unpublished)  2008


Are we not all immigrants from our pasts?

“Prejudices” Illinois Times  April 16, 1987

Feel-good Solutions

Illinois anti-terrorism officials ask how safe is too safe

Illinois Issues May 2006

Animal Rights and Wrongs

Illinoisans debate how to treat animals for food

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  January 28, 1982

Earning One's Keep

Who should do what to deserve welfare?

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 9, 1993


An opiate for the masses, perhaps, but religion in its public manifestations is mother's milk to an opinion columnist. I addressed the private aspects of this issue here and here.

True Unbelievers

Ought religious freedom to exclude atheists?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times March 15, 2012

Moment of Frivolity?

Religion sneaks into Illinois schools by the back door

Illinois Issues  February 2008

Exclude Me in Your Prayers

A Supreme Court ruling misunderstands religious freedom

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times May 29, 2014

A “D” for Damnation

Preparing children for this world and the next is tricky

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 17, 2015​

On Not Doing Wrong

Bishop Paprocki stands guard against corruption

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times July 6, 2017

“Your Money’s No Good Here”

A small town protects itself against an atheist plot

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times January 9, 2014

Hoxsey's Army

Illinois legislators get their cults confused

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 15, 1979

Why Not Rugs?

Finding room for God in the statehouse

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 25, 1985

Taking the Christian out of Christianity
The YMCA picks up a new name but sells an old idea

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  August 12, 2010

Spiritual Endeavors

The godly struggles for Chicago’s soul

See Illinois (unpublished) 2008

A Profound Trauma

Southern Illinois, the Civil War, and civil rights

See Illinois (unpublished)  2006


What riot? Springfield still won’t talk about race

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 20, 1990


On putting your money where your mouth is

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 12, 1986

Fair Is Not Easy

Making fair housing fairer for the poor

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 6, 1981

One's Own Sort

Making race the basis of citizenship

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 30, 1987

Old Letters
The Dumvilles bring mid-Illinois in the mid-1800s to life
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  November 3, 2016

Squaring Accounts

Is killing killers killing?

Illinois Issues  April 1999


Springfield considers municipal prudery

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  March 28, 1980

A Talent for Mischief

A Springfield alderman slanders us eastside boys

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 7, 1988

Illinois’s Disappearing Frontier

The sun sets onWestern Illinois

See Illinois (unpublished)  2002

The Unstate of Illinois

Population tectonics threaten political upheaval

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  September 27, 1990

Burn the Television

Flag-burning excites Illinois pols

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 28, 1990

Clean Fingernails

The ERA debate, first round

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  May 16, 1980

Douglas Park Boys

“Squalid gratification” at the expense of gays

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 26, 1982

Last Rights

The governor doesn’t want to pay to bury the poor

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times April 16, 2015

Aggressive Behavior

Panhandling as protected speech

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times August 27, 2015

Branching Out

How might Illinois towns boost population growth?

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times January 12, 2017

Dem Bones

Eminent domain and cemeteries

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times August 20, 2009

Noise About Noise

The noise from boom cars is confusing Springfield aldermen

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times May 20, 2010

Careless with Heroes

What “Sentimental Journey” ought to remind us of

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times July 22, 2010

Unionizing Moms and Dads

The settling of the Harris case settles nothing

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times July 10, 2014

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

A House in a Day
Will the future of affordable new family housing be the 1950s?
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  November 23, 2011

Good and True 
Another juror confuses another big prosecution
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  December 22, 2011

Get-Out-of-Jail Cards
Prison alternatives for Illinois's public delinquents?
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  December 29, 2011

Certain-kind-of-family Guy

Kirk Dillard mixes his messages about family

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  June 13, 2013

Empty Chairs

Why so little public interest in serving the public interest?

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  April 4, 2013

Trial by Jury

Dragooning jurors to serve justice is unjust

"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times January 30, 2014

Nurse! Nurse!

Relief for Medicaid's financial ills?

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  March 21, 2013

Ready for Reform

Innovative social action in Chicago

See Illinois (unpublished) 2004


Economic colonization and the loss of the local

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 13, 1979

Making a More Perfect City

Utopianism in Chicago

See Illinois (unpublished) 2003

Flapping Jaws

Illinois ranks last in war spending. That’s bad?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 26, 1994

Bringing Comfort

Comforting civilians about Iraq

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  February 28, 1991

Correcting Capitalism

Chicago’s labor reform movements

See Illinois (unpublished)  2007

Good and True
Another juror confuses another big prosecution

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  December 22, 2011

Be All You Can Be

A gay speaker threatens Springfield youth

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 3, 1993

Civil Wrongs

Chicago clamps down on dissent

See Illinois (unpublished)  2005


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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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