Illinois Social History Books and Articles


The books and articles below are about topics in Illinois social history. See the right column for more info about this website.


The Immigrant and Coal Mining Communities of Illinois

Springfield: State of Illinois Department of Registration and Education 1920
Abbott, GraceGo to Book

This is a Bulletin published by the state government “Immigrants Commission”; a study of working and living conditions of immigrant miners in four regions of Illinois.

“The Changing Roles of Farm Women”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 7, No. 1, 1999, pp 2-6

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Adams, JaneGo to Article


Twenty Years at Hull-House, with Autobiographical Notes

NY: Macmillan 1911
Addams, JaneGo to Book

Addams’ autobiography, a history of Chicago’s famous settlement, and a study of urban social problems.

See also:
Hull-House Maps and Papers in Section 331 Labor economics in Political Science, Economics, Labor

Philanthropy and Social Progress; Seven Essays by Miss Jane Addams, Robert A. Woods, Father J.O.S. Huntington, Professor Franklin H. Giddings and Bernard Bosanquet in Section 361 General social problems & services in Education, Public Administration & Social Issues

Social Work in Chicago, Hull House, Jane Addams

“Mexicanas in Chicago”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 10, No. 2, 2003, pp 57-62

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Arredondo, Gabriela F.Go to Article


The Entrance of Women into the Occupations in Illinois

University of Illinois 1917
Bedient, Ethel LouiseGo to Book

A thesis submitted for a Masters’ degree in Economics, in two parts. The first part very briefly covers women’s occupations prior to 1870. The second, more thorough part covers the period from 1870 to 1910, for which the author found much more data.

See also: Campbell, Helen, Woman Wage-earners: Their Past, Their Present and Their Future in Section 331 Labor economics in Political Science, Economics, Labor

Candee, Helen Churchill, How Women May Earn a Living in Section 331 Labor economics in Political Science, Economics, Labor

Women’s employment 19th century, Women’s occupations

“French Women and Family Life in Post-Colonial Illinois”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 12, No. 2, 2005, pp 18-21

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Bishop, Erin I.Go to Article


“French Canadians in the Kankakee Valley”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 12, No. 2, 2005, pp 28-33

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Brettell, Caroline B.Go to Article


“The Progressive Era in Illinois: “Launching Pad” for “New Women””

Illinois History Teacher Vol 7, No. 1, 1999, pp 15-20

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Buenker, John D.Go to Article


“Chicago’s Italians: Immigrants, Ethnics, Achievers, 1850-1985”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 6, No. 2, 1999, pp 36-41

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Candeloro, DominicGo to Article


50-50: Fighting Chicago’s Crime Trusts

Chicago: 1916
Chamberlin, Henry BarrettGo to Book

Reveals through details of police investigations how organized criminal groups operated a number of activities. Chapter headings:

1. Arson Trust
2. Clairvoyant Trust
3. Wiretapper’s Trust
4. Pickpocket Trust
5. Burglary Trust
6. Detective Bureau Criminals
7. Horse Thief Trust
8. Auto Thief, Auto Bandi and Auto Murderer
9. Glass Smashers’ Trust
10. The Gunmen
11. Parasite Trust
12. Moron, Juvenile and Sex Criminal
13. Unspectacular Crime
14. Maclay Hoyne

Illinois and the Underground Railroad to Canada

University of Illinois 1917
Cooley, Verna LucilleGo to Book

Master’s Thesis in History

For links to books about the issue of slavery in Indiana and Illinois, see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

Underground railroad, Illinois anti-slavery movement

The Jews of Illinois …

Chicago: Reform Advocate 1901
Eliassof, HermanGo to Book

(title continued) ” … Their Religious and Civic Life, their Charity and Industry, their Patriotism and Loyalty to American Institutions, from their earliest settlement in the State unto the Present Time “

Produced by a weekly newspaper that was published “in the interest of Reform Judaism”.

“Female Office Workers in Chicago, 1870-1930”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 10, No. 2, 2003, pp 24-29

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Fine, Lisa M.Go to Article


“From Immigration to Integration: Jewish Life in Quincy in the Nineteenth Century”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 5, No. 1, 1998, pp 29-34

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Frolick, David A.Go to Article


“The Irish in Chicago”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 6, No. 2, 1999, pp 12-15

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Funchion, Michael F.Go to Article


“The Chicago Anarchists of 1886: The Crime, The Trial, and the Punishment, by the judge who presided at the trial”

The Century Magazine Vol 45, 6, April 1893, pp 803-837

NY: Century
Gary, Joseph E.Go to Article

The trial after the famous event now known as the “Haymarket Affair” or “Haymarket Massacre”.

“Railroads and Community Life”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 15, No. 1, 2008, pp 18-21

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Grant, H. RogerGo to Article


“Chicago and the Great Migration”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 3, No. 2, 1996, pp 33-37

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Grossman, JamesGo to Article


History of Negro Slavery in Illinois and of the Slavery Agitation in that State

Chicago: McClurg. 1904
Harris, Norman D. Go to Book

This book was originally a PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago History Department. Chapter headings are:

-The Beginnings of Slavery in the Illinois Country, 1719-1783
-Slavery in the Illinois Territory, 1800-1818
-Slavery and the Constitution of 1818
-The Contest for a Convention, 1820-1824
-Negro Servitude under the Constitution of 1818
-The Lovejoy Episode – in St. Louis
-The Lovejoy Episode (continued) – in Alton
-The Slavery Question in the Courts, 1819-1864
-The Beginnings of the Anti-slavery Agitation
-The Origin of the Illinois Liberty Party and the Free Soil Party
-The Free Soil, Free Democratic, and Republican Parties, 1848-1856
-Later Slavery Agitation and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates
-The Progress of Sentiment on the Negro Question, 1840-1875

Appendices
-Bibliography
-Specimen Copies of Slave Papers
-Data Relative to the Contest of 1823-24
-Table of Abolition Votes

For links to books about the issue of slavery in Indiana and Illinois, see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
;
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Coffin, Levi, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F; and
Haviland, Laura S. , A Woman’s Life-Work in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Illinois social conditions, anti-slavery, Illinois Liberty Party, Free Soil Party, Elijah Lovejoy

“Hull House and the Immigrants”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 10, No. 1, 2003, pp 23-26

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Holli, Melvin G.Go to Article


Brief History of the Charitable Institutions of the State of Illinois

Chicago: Morris Printers. 1893
Illinois Board of World’s Fair CommissionersGo to Book

This consists of 10 short histories of the following institutions prepared by their superintendents, distributed at the Columbia Exposition of 1893.

-Institution for the education of the deaf and dumb, at Jacksonville, 1838-1893.
-Institution for the education of the blind, at Jacksonville. 1849-1893.
-Southern hospital for the insane, at Anna. 1869-1893.
-Central hospital for the insane, at Jacksonville 1847-1893.
-Eastern hospital for the insane, at Kankakee. 1877-1983.
-Northern hospital for the insane, at Elgin. 1869-1893.
-Charitable eye and ear infirmary, at Chicago. 1858-1893.
-Soldiers’ and sailors’ home, at Quincy. 1885-1893.
-Soldiers’ orphans’ home, at Normal. 1865-1893.
-Asylum for feeble minded children, at Lincoln, 1865-1893.

Illinois psychiatric hospitals, Columbia Exposition, hospital for the insane, Soldiers and sailors home, Soldiers orphans home, Asylum for feeble minded children

“Mary Livermore and the Illinois Women’s Suffrage Movement”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 3, No. 1, 1996, pp 2-5

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Janu, Bruce D. and Venet, Wendy HamandGo to Article


Illinois in the Fifties or A Decade of Development 1851- 1860. Illinois Centennial Edition

Champaign: Flanigan-Pearson 1918
Johnson, Charles Beneulyn Go to Book

In this volume the author has endeavored to describe things, people and conditions as he saw and knew them in the Fifties. Chapter headings are:

-The Pioneer and his environment
-A Progressive pioneer and the evolution of a home
-The gold seekers of the late Forties
-The stage-driver, stage-coach, stage-hand and an original Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde
-A Country store in the Fifties
-Churches, church people and preachers in the Fifties
-Sports, amusements and some other things
-The village Lyceum and some local Pettifoggers
-An old-time water-mill
-Schools, scholars and teachers
-In and about an Illinois cornfield in the Fifties
-Books, periodicals and other reading matter in the Fifties
-The village doctors
-Railroads and other methods of travel and transportation
-Elections, parties and politics
-Slavery and the Lincoln-Douglas debate

19th century, 1800s, pioneers, history, free online books

Illinois Social History

“African-American Women’s Clubs in Chicago, 1890-1920”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 10, No. 2, 2003, pp 11-15

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Knupfer, Anne MeisGo to Article


League for the Protection of Immigrants: Annual Reports 1909-1917

Chicago 1910-1918
League for the Protection of ImmigrantsGo to Book

The name of the League changed to “Immigrants Protective League” in the 1910-1911 report. “The work that the League is attempting to do is primarily that of first help to the immigrant … welcoming the newcomers, seeing that they reach the homes to which they are destined, guarding them against wrongs at the railroad stations, labor employment agencies, and work camps, assisting them to secure work, advising and encouraging them to take advantage of [educational opportunities] , settlements, churches, Y.M.C.A. and other organizations, protecting [women and girls] from the perils of the white slave trade and prostitution. Personal visits to stations and homes, conferences with the local, state and national authorities, co-operation with other organizations and especially with the police, have been some of the methods employed as the basis for the work.”
– Report of the President 1909-10, pp 5-6
In addition to being annual summaries of the work of the organization, these reports contain numerous descriptions of case studies or incidents, along with a wide variety of useful data.

Americanization in Chicago …

Chicago: Chicago Community Trust 1920
Loomis, Frank D.Go to Book

(title continued) ” … The Report of a Survey made by authority and under direction of the Chicago Community Trust”

This small book covers addresses the efforts being made by a wide variety of organizations that served the needs of immigrant groups in Chicago and worked to “Americanize” them. It contains brief descriptions of many types of organizations and the way in which they contributed. A number of tables provide data about immigrant groups, and there are lists of all organizations involved in such work.

Chicago Sensations, or, Leaves from the Note Book of a Chicago Reporter and Detective

Chicago: Rand, McNally 1886
Maitland, JamesGo to Book


Pioneers of Illinois, containing a Series of Sketches relating to Events that occurred previous to 1813…

Chicago: Knight & Leonard. 1892
Matson, N.Go to Book

(title continued) ” also Narratives of many thrilling incidents connected with the early settlement of the West, drawn from History, Tradition and Personal Reminiscences”

The author wrote in the Preface that a very large share of the content of this volume was collected by him in discussions with early settlers and by an Indian he employed to collect stories and narratives from Indians. Much of the book concerns interaction between pioneers and Indians, and there appears to be a lot of material about Peoria.

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
;
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

Illinois pioneers, frontier life, 1850s

The Women of Illinois

Bloomington, ILL: Pantagraph 1913
McCormick, Henry Go to Book

Chapter headings are:

-The Pioneer Women of Illinois
-Mrs. Le Compt
-Mrs. John Edgar
-Mrs. Robert Morrison
-Mrs. Mary A. Bickerdyke
-Mrs. Mary A. Livermore
-Frances E. Willard
-Jane Addams
-Mrs. Lida Brown McMurry
-Mrs. Letitia Green Stevenson
-Marie Eugenia Von Elsner (Litta)
-The Women of Today

Also see: Johnson, Helen Kendrick, Woman and the Republic; a Survey of the Woman-suffrage Movement in the United States and a Discussion of the Claims and Arguments of its Foremost Advocates in Section 324 The political process in Political Science, Economics, Labor

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
;
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

Illinois pioneer women, Frances Willard, Jane Addams, Marie Von Elsner, Mary Bickerdyke, Lida Brown McMurry, Mary Livermore, Letitia Green Stevenson

“A Quarter of a Century in the Stockyards District”

Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society 1920, pp 72-83

Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society
McDowell, Mary E.Go to Article

An account of labor conditions by a Chicago social worker.

See also: Lambert, George W., A Trip through the Union Stock Yards and Slaughter Houses and O’Brien, John, Through the Chicago Stock Yards; a Handy Guide to the Great Packing Industry in Illinois Economic History

Chicago social work

“Foreign Immigrants in Illinois 1850”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 5, No. 1, 1998, pp 15-21

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Meyer, Douglas K.Go to Article


“Freedom’s Early Ring: Ending Slavery in the Illinois Country, 1787-1818”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 5, No. 1, 1998, pp 2-6

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Middleton, StephenGo to Article


“The Work of Pioneer Women”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 15, No. 2, 2009, pp 23-30

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Nordhauser, Ellen MoreGo to Article


The Swedish Element in Illinois; Survey of the Past Seven Decades

Chicago: Swedish-American Biographical Association 1917
Olson, Ernst W.Go to Book

Arranged into four parts, each with numerous chapters, followed by 320 pages of “Life Sketches of Men of Today”, a general index and a biographical index. The parts are:

1. The Pioneer Period; Prior to 1846
2. The Period of Settlement and Foundation
3. The Period of Growth and Establishment
4. The Period of Cultural Progress

“Multicultural Difficulties in Chicago’s Polish Catholic Community: Historical Perspectives”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 6, No. 2, 1999, pp 23-27

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Parot, Joseph JohnGo to Article


Pioneer Life in Illinois

Pana, ILL: Kerrs. 1907
Perryman, F. M. Go to Book

An unusual little book of one-page chapters of reminiscences about a wide variety of topics in pioneer life.

See also: Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History

19th century, 1800s, pioneers, history, customs, social life, free online books

Illinois social history

Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches

NY: Dillingham. 1878
Pinkerton, AllanGo to Book

This book is a collection of autobiographical stories of investigations by Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant who became Chicago’s first detective in 1849. In 1850 he formed a partnership later known as the ‘Pinkerton National Detective Agency’. He developed some investigative techniques such as ‘shadowing’ a suspect and ‘assuming a role’, or undercover work.

This book appeared nine years before the first Sherlock Holmes stories.

Illinois detectives, Allan Pinkerton, Pinkerton’s Detective Agency, Chicago crime history

The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock …

Cleveland: Clark. 1924
Rothert, Otto A. Go to Book

(title continued) “… Historical Accounts of the Famous Highwaymen and River Pirates who operated in pioneer days upon the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and over the old Natchez Trace


This volume is about gangs of criminals that operated for decades from the cave located on the Illinois bank of the Ohio River. Some readers may remember a scene from the 1962 movie “How the West was Won”, which was partly shot in the cave.

Brigands and robbers, Ohio River life, Mississippi River Valley

Illinois Social History

“The Springfield Race Riot of 1908”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 3, No. 2, 1996, pp 22-27

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Senechal, RobertaGo to Article


A History of the Norwegians of Illinois …

Chicago: Anderson 1905
Strand, A. E., comp. and ed. Go to Book

(title continued) “… a concise record of the struggles and achievements of the early settlers together with a narrative of what is now being done by the Norwegian-Americans of Illinois in the development of their adopted country. Illustrated. With the valuable collaboration of numerous authors and contributors”

The first half of the book is a collection of stories from pioneer life and local histories. The second half contains numerous brief histories of Norwegian churches, histories of other societies, 19 biographies, “some memorable events in the history of the Norwegians in Chicago”, and profiles of some companies owned by Norwegians.

For works about immigration of various ethnic groups, see:
Ohio Social History
(Scotch-Irish and Welsh);
Indiana Social History (Germans);
Michigan Social History (Dutch, Jews and Armenians);
Wisconsin Social History (Czechs, Danish, Cornish, Germans, Norwegians, Dutch, Swiss, Belgians, Greeks and Icelanders)

Illinois Norwegians, Norwegian immigrants, Norwegians in Chicago, Norwegian churches

“Ferdinand Ernst and the Germany Colony at Vandalia, Illinois”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 4, No. 1, 1997, pp 2-5

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Stroble, Paul E.Go to Article


The Martyrdom of Lovejoy; an Account of the Life, Trials, and Perils of Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy …

Chicago: Fergus. 1881
Tanner, Henry Go to Book

(title continued) “… who was killed by a Pro-Slavery Mob at Alton, Ill., on the night of November 7, 1837. By an Eye-Witness”

“In May 1836, after anti-abolitionist opponents in St. Louis destroyed his printing press for the third time, Lovejoy left the city and moved across the river to Alton in the free state of Illinois. In 1837 he started the Alton Observer, also an abolitionist paper. On November 7, 1837, a pro-slavery mob attacked the warehouse where Lovejoy had his fourth printing press. Lovejoy and his supporters exchanged gunfire with the mob, which fatally shot him. He died on the spot and was soon hailed as a martyr by abolitionists across the country.”
– Wikipedia entry for Elijah Parish Lovejoy

abolition movement, Illinois anti-slavery, anti-slavery press, Lovejoy, Elijah, Alton IL

Illinois Pioneer Days

Litchfield, Ill: Lewis. 1918
Waller, ElbertGo to Book

An 80-page book describing what life was like for pioneers, in no particular location of Illinois. Light and humorous, but informative. Chapter headings are:

-Where the West Begins
-Pioneer Home Life
-A Pioneer Church
-A Pioneer School
-The Pioneer Mother
-Going to Mill
-A Ranger’s Adventure
-“Lasses”
-Buck-Skin Breeches
-Pioneer Boatmen
-Camp Meetings
-Witchcraft
-Kaskaskia Cursed
-Freak Lawsuits of Pioneer Days
-Money of the Good Old Days
-Settling their Differences
-A Trapper’s Predicament
-Pioneer Hash
-Song of the Pioneers
-A Pioneer Vocabulary

Related books are at: Making Cloth and Clothing on the Frontier

Frontier and pioneer life, Illinois frontier history

“Conflict in the Illinois Woman Suffrage Movement of 1913”

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society Vol 76, No. 2, Summer 1983, pp 95-114

Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society
Wheeler, Adade MitchellGo to Article

For works on women’s suffrage, see: Section 324 The political process in Political Science, Economics, Labor

For a 1916 guide to recommended reading on Woman Suffrage, see: “Woman Suffrage” in, The Study Outline Series in Section 016 Bibliographies of Special Subjects in Bibliographies, Subject Book Lists & Study Outlines

Woman suffrage movement

Woman and Temperance: or, The Work and Workers of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

Hartford, CT: Park 1883
Willard, Frances E.Go to Book


“Bishop Hill, Sweden’s Doorway into Illinois”

Illinois History Teacher Vol 6, No. 2, 1999, pp 2-4

Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Wyman, MarkGo to Article


You can find more works like these at our other ‘Social History’ pages.

Great Lakes Social History

Ohio Social History

Indiana Social History

Michigan Social History

Wisconsin Social History


Your comments and feedback are welcome!