Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves
Odds & ends
Illinois past and present, as seen by James Krohe Jr.
The Corn Latitudes
Buildings are things, artifacts, places, symbols, landmarks, investments. They matter, but the stewardship of Springfield's stock of buildings by public officials and private owners was so indifferent as to be derelict. My exasperation about this was pretty much constant over more than four decades, as is obvious in these pieces about building design, naming, and historic preservation and restoration.
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The case for restoring the old state armory
"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times April 8, 2010
Authenticity and the tourist’s Lincoln
"Prejudices" Illinois Times February 10, 1983
The Old State Capitol: Tarnished Jewel
Springfield squabbles over an inheritance
"Prejudices" Illinois Times January 30, 1981
The end of the Hotel Abraham Lincoln
"Prejudices" Illinois Times December 22, 1978
Springfield’s grandest hotel dies prematurely
"Prejudices" Illinois Times December 7, 1978
An early preservation cause in Springfield
"Forum" Illinois Times April 22, 1976
An early Frank Lloyd Wright house is up for sale
“Prejudices” Illinois Times March 6, 1981
The state is a poor host at the Dana-Thomas House
“Prejudices” Illinois Times Undated
Saving the “Castle,” Monument to the American Dream
Springfield’s Brinkerhoff House makes new friends
Illinois Times January 13, 1978
A more modern library, not a better one
"Prejudices" Illinois Times March 4, 1977
Public architecture of the capital is not capital
“Prejudices” Illinois Times September 28, 1979
Cheeseparing in the Capitol Complex
Will a new Stratton Building be a better one?
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times June 10, 2010
The state is doing justice to the Supreme Court Building
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times June 20, 2013
Restoration makes the statehouse too grand for politics
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 12, 2013
Is the state spending too much to restore the statehouse?
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 19, 2013
An old friend on Monroe Street gets a makeover
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times December 17, 2015
Jet-set Architecture? In Springfield?
A vanished age endures in its buildings
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times March 24, 2016
Is the state museum building at risk?
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times April 14, 2016
Marking the Centennial’s centennial
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 1, 2016
Famous buildings—and buildings by famous architects
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times August 4, 2011
Checking out the new Illinois State Library
“Prejudices” Illinois Times January 11, 1990
The perils of naming public buildings in a fastidious age
"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times March 10, 2011
Springfield’s “throwaway mentality”
"Prejudices" Illinois Times July 8, 1982
Why the Presbyterians Should Not Tear Down Buildings for a Parking Pot
God approves more parking for Springfield
“Prejudices” Illinois Times July 21, 1978
Springfield's daily builds a new home
“Prejudices” Illinois Times July 3, 1981
Springfield catalogs some of its history
“Prejudices” Illinois Times November 5, 1981
Progress rolls over the good sisters of Springfield
“Prejudices” Illinois Times June 9, 1994
Are the Rauners giving Illinois a mansion it really wants?
"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times July 28, 2016
Putting Your Name Above the Door
Springfield charity in the age of brand-building
"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times September, 23, 2010
Temples in Ruins
The old Franklin Life complex did not get the owner it deserves
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 15, 2011
Visiting the statehouse complex in Springfield
See Illinois (unpublished) 2006
The Famous Architect's Springfield Project
Helmut Jahn? Parking ramp? Springfield?
Illinois Times May 13, 2021
The “lost” lintel from the old Lincoln Library
“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times November 24, 2010
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Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.
One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.
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 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.
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.
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."
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 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” 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.
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
Southern Illinois University Press 2017
A work of solid history, entertainingly told.
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.
The Annals of Iowa
A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians
as well as local historians generally.
Journal of Illinois HIstory
A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.
A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.
Journal of the Illinois
State Historical Society
to read about
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Politics & government
Arts & culture